STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD

Written on the 7 August 2014 by Laura Daquino

STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD
4,200 EMPLOYEES are behind the global revenue-generating machine* that is DLA Piper. The firm’s employees hail from a variety of disciplines to cover legal matters in full scope. The Brisbane office has recently appointed a number of practitioners, including Lyndon Masters to the corporate team and Sophie Devitt to litigation and regulation. They come from different backgrounds, Masters switching from radiography upon realising his passion for the law, and Devitt working her way up the firm’s rankings from beginning there with her articles. Hence, they approach their work from different mindsets, and their experiences reflect this:

 


Lyndon Masters (Corporate)

What’s your background and how has your career path led you to this position?

I completed a Bachelor of Applied Science at University of Sydney and was a radiographer for six years. It was while practicing radiography that a discussion with a fellow radiographer led me to studying law. Following the completion of my legal studies, I worked for an international law firm in Sydney for four years, before moving to Dubai in 2006. I spent three years in Dubai with Allen & Overy, undertaking a large number of M&A transactions in the EMEA region. On return from Dubai, I joined DLA Piper's Sydney corporate group, before relocating approximately three years ago to the Brisbane corporate team.

What attracted you to corporate law?

The attraction to corporate law (and in particular, M&A) is the transactions and the buzz I get from deals and interacting with highly intelligent individuals across many facets of practice. While sometimes life as a lawyer can be document driven and tedious, the buzz of a deal is what gets me out of bed in the mornings. I also love working across borders, hence my involvement throughout my career with international firms.

What’s the most memorable project you have worked on?

One of the most memorable projects I have worked on was working with a team on an IPO in the Middle East for a downstream petroleum project. What was most memorable about it was that we had to travel to Tehran – at the time closed to most Westerners – for meetings with the upstream petroleum supplier to the project, Iran's Ministry of Petroleum. The trip also included a flight and site visit to a ‘petro-processing city’ on the southern coast of Iran. The trip was memorable, as I never anticipated or expected to go to Iran as part of working in Dubai. To see the cultural differences as well as how life was in the midst of economic embargoes and sanctions was absolutely enthralling.

What have you been working on lately?

I have been working on a number of larger private and public M&A transactions both for local and international clients. I have also been working on some large infrastructure projects, such as the NorthConnex Motorway in North West Sydney.

What are some of the emerging trends in your area of law or the cases you are handling?

In the Australian M&A space we are seeing the re-entry of large cashed-up US buyers looking for good quality Australian targets. Over the last few years, the market has generally looked to Asia as our M&A saviour, however, the US is certainly reasserting its position as the dominant buyer of assets in the local market.

What are the greatest joys and challenges of your job?

The greatest joy would have to be when you receive a great result from the client, regardless of the transaction size. The greatest challenge has undoubtedly been trying to balance a very demanding and time consuming career with being a husband and a father. This won't come as a surprise to most people in the legal profession.

If you weren’t in the legal profession, in what role or industry could you see yourself in?

I would love to be a doctor.

How do you maintain a work-life balance?

I go surfing to zone out – only a surfer knows this feeling. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends, especially when food and a few beers are involved.


Sophie Devitt (Litigation & Regulation)

What’s your background and how has your career path led you to this position?

I have been with the firm for more than a decade having completed my articles here. My practice today has been an evolution from a strictly litigation practice to litigation and regulatory practice with an insurance sector focus. I enjoy being immersed in the sector from the front end transactions through to the disputes.

What attracted you to insurance law?

The insurance sector underpins modern commerce. It is clear from the aftermath of natural disasters the critical role the sector plays. But it is not only at times of disasters that the insurance sector has a role. It is one of the major players in investment (both traditional and market leading), employment, future proofing and thought leadership. It is a dynamic sector that leads and it is great to be engaged with and advising to players within the sector.

What’s the most memorable project/s you have worked on?

Managing the fallout from the January 2011 Brisbane floods, where I worked alongside one of my major clients. I assisted in risk mitigation for that client and contributed to the commentary on the definition of 'flood'.

What have you been working on lately?

I have been working on a range of matters, from significant litigation in North Queensland, to advising on regulatory issues for a range of acquisitions for our insurance clients.

What are some of the emerging trends in your area of law or the cases you are handling?

Cyber liability and responding to catastrophic events/natural disaster remains a focus. The sector is also responding to the growing trend of insurance-linked securities.

Are legislative changes currently impacting your operations?

The regulatory environment is always shifting for our clients. The Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) reforms and the subsequent changes being rolled out by the current government will have an impact. If there are changes to the unfair contract terms to apply to insurance contracts this will likely also have a significant impact. The changes I've described will impact our clients rather than our business.

What are the greatest joys and challenges of your job?

I work with great clients and great people. Delivering outcomes for my client with a wonderful team of lawyers is a part of the job I really enjoy. The greatest challenge to date has probably been maintaining the momentum of my career when I was on maternity leave and upon my return. Fortunately, I have been supported by the firm and my family so that my career did not stall. My clients have also been great supporters.

If you weren’t in the legal profession, in what role or industry could you see yourself in?

I think I still see myself in the insurance sector, because there are so many diverse roles within Insurance.

How do you maintain a work-life balance?

In my view, the definition of 'work-life balance' is extremely subjective. My balance is far from perfect and work mostly wins out. To extent I have achieved a work-life balance it has been due to the usual ingredients; incredible support (both professionally and personally from my family) and flexibility in how and when I do my work. Some weeks are more 'balanced' than others.



*DLA Piper ranked as the highest-grossing US law firm in 2014 for the second consecutive year in the annual The AM Law 100 survey published by The American Lawyer. 

 

 

 
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