Australia: Five minutes with Alexander Hawkins, lawyer in CGW commercial team
Last Updated: 15 November 2018

Alexander Hawkins, lawyer in our commercial team, has worked with Cooper Grace Ward since March 2018. We asked him to tell us in his own words what life at Cooper Grace Ward is like, and a few of his past experiences and favourite things.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?

My high school had a strong tradition of law and debating so in a sense, the writing was on the wall for me. Towards the end of school, I found that I was good at the sorts of subjects which lawyers tend to be good at – English and humanities. I was also terrible at maths. I made the decision to enrol in a law degree because it was a course I thought I might ultimately enjoy and I have not regretted that decision.

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

I joined Cooper Grace Ward in March of this year. Prior to that, I was a lawyer at a boutique succession law firm where I practised in estate and trust litigation. Although I enjoyed my work and I found the law in which I practised to be very interesting, CGW provided me with an opportunity to broaden my knowledge and learn new skills. I am now under the tutelage of Scott Hay-Bartlem working in our Commercial team on matters ranging from superannuation disputes to disputes involving attorneys, estates and trusts.

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

Aaron Sorkin – if it weren't for the need to be a good host, I would spend the entire night talking with Aaron about anything and everything related to The West Wing. It is by far my favourite TV show.

Michael Kirby AC – because every dinner party needs a devil's advocate.

Steven Gerrard – he was my sporting hero as a kid and he is the reason I am a fanatical Liverpool supporter today. I would love the opportunity just to meet him and shake his hand.

Where is the best place in Brisbane to go for a drink or dinner after work?

In the CBD, my favourite place for a drink after work is Florist and my favourite restaurant is Otto Ristorante.

Outside the CBD, I am a big fan of Beccofino and Longtime.

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

My dad use to have a quote in his office which he hung on one of the walls in a picture frame. It read: "A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work; his play; his labour; his leisure; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing."
It is etched in my memory because I would see it every day after school when I walked to his office to hitch a lift home. I am not sure whether it constitutes advice, but it is at least a reminder to do what you love. I think this is very important.

Do you have any hobbies/interest outside of work?

I enjoy playing tennis and soccer on the weekends and I try never to miss my beloved Liverpool compete (although I am less enthusiastic these days about waking up for the post-midnight games). I also enjoy skiing. I try to be as active as possible on the weekends but during the week, I tend to transform into a couch potato when I get home of an evening. This lends itself to a bit of TV binging. I won't lie, I am a sucker for anything Bachie related. I am also a big fan of Rake and The Blacklist.

Complete this scenario: If I weren't a lawyer, I would be...

I really have no idea. I never considered studying anything else.

What do you think will be the single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2018?

I think that this question is open to interpretation. On the one hand, there are those issues (perhaps micro issues) which affect the business of law firms such as dealing with increased competition (especially given the big four accounting firms are now fishing in our pond), how to provide clients with cost certainty and how to attract and retain top talent (which involves a consideration of issues such as managing stress, flexible working arrangements and potentially abandoning billable targets).

On the other hand, there are issues which affect the development of law in this country such as institutional law reform and politics. I recently read Caitlin McKenna's answer to this question (a colleague of mine in our tax team) in which she suggested politicians lack the courage to make new law which might, in the short term, be unpopular. I tend to agree with this. Getting laws enacted that deal with real problems depends upon leadership (of which we could do with more) and parliamentary time. Another issue and one which I think is a real concern is the rise of alternative dispute resolution in Australia. Although I am a proponent of ADR (in some cases), the development of law is imperilled to some extent by mediation and the fact that a lot of cases are not going to court at all. More and more cases are simply being settled by the power of the parties (and their money).

What do you love about your job?

Apart from the fact no manual labour is required of me, I like that the practice of law is intellectually stimulating, but it also has real-world impact. I can apply what I have learnt and am still learning to help solve problems for people and ultimately make their lives better. To answer the question, what I love about my job is that there is a moral cause at the back of my intellectual endeavour. Yes, I get to solve interesting problems on a daily basis and sometimes the game is to do so quicker than your opponent (and I like this aspect of the job a lot), but the outcome brings more than just personal satisfaction. The outcome can benefit the lives of people and this, I must admit, can be tremendously fulfilling.

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

I am colour-blind.

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