Your career has involved some interesting pivots. What brings you to Arnold Bloch Leibler?
I started out in family law and decided to do a Master of Taxation at Monash University, primarily to strengthen my advice to clients around property settlements. I loved the court work involved in family law but, as I progressed through the Masters, I realised that if I followed this other path, I wouldn’t have to deal every day with people whose lives had gone pear shaped - there would be a lot less tears and nastiness.
But the opportunity to work in a senior position, specialising in duty, for a firm with the reputation for excellence that Arnold Bloch Leibler has was irresistible and I brought forward my plans to return to legal practice.
What do you bring to this strong team of tax lawyers?
In terms of the work we do as a firm, duty and land tax are issues that span all the main practice areas, including major transactions. I had anticipated, and have already experienced, the kind of cross practice collaboration this firm is exceptionally good at, particularly with the property group, banking & finance and commercial.
Fielding diverse queries from across the firm keeps me on my toes and makes the job even more rewarding. I also find it rewarding to mentor junior lawyers, helping to fill gaps in their knowledge and experience, and giving them a sense of duty issues. Even if they are never going to be expected to advise on the technicalities, at least they’ll be aware that these issues may come up.
Fitting in culturally is very important at Arnold Bloch Leibler – people are hired, not only for their expertise but so that they can fit in by being themselves and playing to their individual strengths. I’ve felt at home from Day 1 and been made to feel very welcome.
Fielding diverse queries from across the firm keeps me on my toes and makes the job even more rewarding. I also find it rewarding to mentor junior lawyers, helping to fill gaps in their knowledge and experience.
What do you see as your main areas of focus over the next 12 months?
There’s been a significant focus for some years to explore the best, most efficient and fairest system for revenue collection for Australia’s state and territories. There seems to be a level of consensus now that stamp duty is inefficient, and a greater emphasis should be placed on land taxes.
I don’t imagine I’ll be out of a job anytime soon in terms of the duty work (and I also advise on land tax!), but it will be interesting to observe and contribute to the policy discussion as it unfolds.
You’ve said that if you hadn’t been recruited by ABL, you’d be a ski instructor at Mt Buller. How do the two roles stack up against one another?
The work environment is very different, of course – an office situation vs lots of fresh air and connecting with nature. But in some ways, the satisfaction I find in the two roles is quite similar.
Being a ski instructor is all about giving someone enough pointers to be relaxed in achieving their objectives on the snow, whether it’s going faster or taking on a more challenging run.
The rationale for my advice can be quite technical, even counter intuitive. But just like providing tax advice, the student needs me to distil the complexity into language they can readily understand and apply. You don’t want a lecture on the technicalities of skiing when you are enjoying your holiday at a ski resort! To do that effectively, and deliver the results people want when they’re paying a lot of money for your time, you need to know your stuff really, really well.