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Meet newly appointed senior associate Jessica Wills

Corporate and M&A
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Newly appointed senior associate, Jessica Wills, gives an insight into her career progression, her experience working on the Global Citizen case and some of her transaction highlights.

You've progressed at ABL from starting out as a seasonal clerk to now being appointed Senior Associate. What do you see as the advantages of advancing your career in this way within the one firm and, specifically, at ABL?

The greatest advantage has been the ability to build long-term, enduring relationships with colleagues and clients. These connections have improved the quality of our work, the efficiency with which it’s completed and, in my experience, make working on matters together more enjoyable for everyone involved.

You had the opportunity to work on a landmark case, where ABL acted pro bono for Global Citizen in its registration dispute with the Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. What was it like to be part of securing such a significant win so early in your career?

Working on this case has truly been the highlight of my career to date. Global Citizen was my first public interest client as a Law Graduate and, over the years, the nature and scope of the work we have completed together has changed and grown. This has expanded my knowledge and experience in commercial, intellectual property and charity law and, when it came time to appeal the ACNC’s decision to refuse Global Citizen’s registration as a Public Benevolent Institution to the AAT, litigation as well.

To work with some of the leading charity law minds in Australia – both within ABL and our counsel – was both a privilege and an exciting challenge, especially in service of a mission as important as ending extreme poverty. To win the appeal after four years challenging the ACNC’s interpretation of the Public Benevolent Institution subtype was a hugely satisfying victory, for Global Citizen and for the Australian charity sector more broadly.

“The greatest advantage has been the ability to build long-term, enduring relationships with colleagues and clients”.

What are some of the other highlight transactions you've worked on that have contributed to your promotion to Senior Associate?

Another highlight transaction was Nufarm’s sale of its South American business to Sumitomo Chemical Company for over $1 billion in 2020. It was one thing navigating the intricacies of negotiating and documenting a transaction of this magnitude and complexity across so many different jurisdictions (Japan, Australia, England, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Chile). But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we were faced with a whole new set of unprecedented obstacles. Completing the transaction in that climate was especially rewarding for our client and for ABL.

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