Hard work and long hours – but there are compensations

Hard work and long hours – but there are compensations

Lawyer David Taylor may not have planned to emigrate to Australia, but he is certainly now making the most of all that life in Sydney has to offer.

David (OE 1991–1998) read Social & Political Sciences at Cambridge after leaving the School, before going on to spend two years at Nottingham Law School. He then undertook his solicitor training in international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

“Having been in London for all of my life and worked at a large City firm, it was time to try something different,” he says. “Australia was not the original plan – I just knew I needed a change from London.

“The opportunity arose to work at what was then Freehills (now Herbert Smith Freehills) in Sydney and to bring my (now) wife with me, so we jumped at it. I did not have any idea as to how long we would go for, and certainly not that we would settle down here, but, almost nine years later, we are still here, own a house, have Australian citizenship, and have a son, born in Sydney.”

“One of the benefits of Sydney over London is that you have many more months in the year for outdoor activities. Me, I like to go diving and can pretty much go year-round. I don’t have to travel far and can often walk: I have about six or seven golden-sand beaches within less than 30 minutes’ drive from my house, and some much closer. As the weather is warm-to-hot nine months of the year, even when you do not have an outdoor activity planned, you can head to a beach, go for a walk around the harbour, or simply relax outside with friends and have a barbecue – a great Australian pastime.”

David is a Senior Associate in his firm’s Dispute Resolution group, specialising in shareholder class actions and product liability matters.

“The class action landscape has grown tremendously in Australia in the last decade. It is a relatively new system, having been introduced in 1992. Although, compared with the US, Australia is a far less litigious environment, it is now considered the second-most active class action jurisdiction in the world,” he says.

His cases are typically shareholder class actions, focusing on alleged breaches of stock exchange rules by listed companies. Aggrieved shareholders (including institutions and individuals) are able to bring a collective action under specific rules against the company.

“This is much more cost-effective than having to commence separate actions and so provides Australians with greater access to justice than jurisdictions which do not have this mechanism available. My firm regularly represents some of the largest Australian (and global) ‘corporates’ in the world in class actions.”

Understanding what it means to be a corporate lawyer without actually ‘living it’ is difficult, he says, but he does have some words of advice for anyone interested: “Although it goes without saying, I will say it anyway: you should forget what you see on TV. Being a lawyer at a top firm anywhere in the world requires a lot of hard work, long hours and sacrifice. I remember when I was doing my A-Levels and thought that I would never be able to work harder. Then I thought the same when I was doing my finals. Well, I can honestly say I feel the same all the time at work.

“Anyone who goes into corporate law thinking it will be easy, frankly needs their head checked! That being said, the work is wonderfully challenging and interesting, my colleagues are incredibly talented, clever and great fun, and my office is a fabulous place to work. As a lawyer, you are part of a privileged profession where people (generally) treat each other with mutual respect and push each other intellectually. I am very lucky to have chosen a career in the law.”