THE MAKING OF A LEGAL LEGEND: Q&A SPECIAL
Written on the 19 February 2016 by Paris Faint
MELISSA Sinopoli (pictured) has made the transition from law school to senior leadership in less than a decade.
The word 'trailblazer' doesn't seem to suffice when describing Sinopoli's journey through MacDonnells Law, particularly now as the 28-year-old steps into her new role as practice group leader of the firm's 40-strong state wide commercial team.
The promotion also means that Sinopoli has become the company's youngest female senior leader in its entire 131-year history.
Sinopoli has taken over the reins from Partner Luckbir Singh, who believes she is the perfect person to sustain growth and inspire motivation in the years ahead.
"The commercial practice group is gaining more and more momentum with an experienced team in a changing legal industry, and the firm believes it is the right time for a new leader who can bring fresh ideas, vigour and scope to the group," says Singh.
"Melissa is exactly that person, and combined with a highly-skilled and motivated team beside her, the firm is confident she will lead the commercial practice group well into the future."
Outside her day-to-day work Sinopoli also maintains external roles, including her position on the Australian Institute of Management's Young Leaders Advisory Board.
Brisbane Legal sat down with Sinopoli to talk about her journey into law, and her plans for the commercial team at MacDonnells.
Q&A WITH MELISSA SINOPOLI
You have broken progression records at your firm, so what do you put such success down to?
I've been very fortunate at MacDonnells law in that it's been a very supportive firm both professionally and personally.
They have always promoted on merit instead of age or other factors, so I've always been given the opportunity to do well at MacDonnells and also to undertake external endeavours.
I've had the opportunity to work with some great partners who have spent a lot of time with me, and taught me not only the technical skills but all of the extra skills you need to succeed as a lawyer.
What is the first step in your new role?
I'm really looking forward to working with our team. We have a very strong group of people working across the state now, so I'm excited to build on that team while focusing on some key growth areas we see over the next few years.
What do you see as the major trends for the industry in the year ahead?
It's an interesting time for the legal industry in that there's been a lot of innovative models and firms that have done new and interesting things in the last few years, and I think that's really just the start of more to come. Moving forward I think we will see a lot of law firms go virtual, fixed-fee, document production and online that will continue to be a trend across the industry.
What have been your proudest achievements during your time at MacDonnells?
Being promoted has been a significant achievement, and one that I'm honoured to get. It's been a big development to the firm to have somebody who is young and not a partner to be given that responsibility.
Aside from that, the quality of the matters I've been given the opportunity to work on whilst I've been here is excellent. There's been a number of large international matters I've been involved with, but I've also been able to continue with a lot of external roles at the same time.
Do you have a leadership mantra you abide by?
For both myself and the firm I think it's all about growing our people and having a big focus on that, because I think that's a starting point for making sure that we can deliver the best service in helping our clients. That will continue to be my focus.
Do you believe that opportunities for career advancement are changing in the industry?
I think there will be legal graduates coming into the industry that won't be following the traditional path that we've seen. The number of graduate positions up against the number of graduates is obviously an issue, and I think that will result in those graduates going down a slightly different path.
There will be a lot more people that won't end up in traditional graduate roles or even lawyers, but instead will end up moving into paralegal work, in-house or in-government industry work.
Pictured: Melissa Sinopoli with Partner Luckbir Singh
Author: Paris Faint