Australia: Five minutes with Leanne O'Neill
Last Updated: 4 July 2016

Leanne O'Neill, Senior Associate in our Property, Planning and Environment team, has worked with Cooper Grace Ward for almost three years. We asked her to tell us in her own words what life at Cooper Grace Ward is like, and a few of her past experiences and favourite things.

  1. What made you decide to become a lawyer?

I first trained as an historian and realised that there was a lot of reading and paperwork. Next I tried teaching, only to realise that teaching children was really hard and very stressful, and the hours weren't great (OK, so I was an arts student at the time). I've ended up as a lawyer (ridiculous amounts of reading), long hours and I've had three children... go figure.

  1. How long have you worked at Cooper Grace Ward for and what brought you to that position?

I have had the good fortune to work at CGW for nearly three years. I wanted an opportunity build a practice based on a mix of government and private work in the areas of environmental, planning and land use management law, areas I specialised in whilst working in a number of senior legal positions in the Queensland Government. The skills I have developed at CGW have made me a better lawyer and I take pride in delivering really satisfying outcomes for my clients. It was the best career decision I could have made.

  1. If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive who would they be and why?

Scottish doctor and polar explorer Alistair Mackay, who accompanied Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton on the Antarctic expeditions, and then on the ill-fated Karluk expedition to the Artic.

Varian Fry, the American journalist who helped 2,000 to 4,000 anti-Nazi and Jewish refugees (including hundreds of famous artists, musicians, historians, scientists and doctors) to escape Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

My great-grandmother who left her family and became a maid at nine years of age, only to have to follow her mistress to Australia when she was 11 years. By all accounts she was an amazing, resilient and tough woman.

  1. Where's the best place to go for a drink or dinner after work?

You can't go past the pizzas or service at Tank Restaurant and Bar. I highly recommend!

  1. What's the best advice you've ever been given?

What goes around, comes around. So be nice to your fellow colleagues!... You never know when you will need their help with your client's file!

  1. Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?

My three young girls are my greatest hobby. Caveat on that – when they are good! My hobby is reading a good novel with a glass of wine.

  1. Complete this sentence: If I wasn't a lawyer, I would be...

An arts student... For those of you who were arts students (or wished they had been) weren't they the wonder years?

  1. What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2016?

I think the biggest issue will be the number of skilled lawyers undertaking nonlegal roles within organisations and government. This means that a lot of traditional legal work is no longer being referred outside of company structures including to law firms. This will will reduce the number of legal jobs available and change the landscape of law firms as lawyers they will need to position themselves for very specialised areas of law, with no guarantee of work flow.

  1. What do you love about your job?

The view from my office... No really, I love the feeling I get when I work on a really complex matter that my work helps to resolve, to the satisfaction and gratification of the client. I assume that feeling is a little like winning the lottery (although I can't yet say I can compare the two).

  1. Something you might not know about me is that...

I love to draw and paint.

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