Burch&Co associate director: Lawyers should be listening far more than they speak

Victoria Moffat emphasises the importance of information as power

Burch&Co associate director: Lawyers should be listening far more than they speak
Victoria Moffat

Victoria Moffat planned to go into family law because of the “human story” element, but she ended up finding that element in corporate law and has never looked back.

Last month, she was named one of Burch&Co’s new associate directors alongside Prue Greenfield, and presently leads the firm’s corporate M&A team. For Moffat, she has been very proud to part of the firm’s efforts to help clients “realise the value of the businesses they have spent their lives building”.

In this interview, Moffat talks about being part of “Kind July”, Burch&Co’s legaltech initiatives and why she’d defend Succession’s Logan Roy in court.

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What made you choose a career in law, and what's your favourite part of the job?

I set out to be a family lawyer because I loved the idea of a profession with a “human story” element that involved a lot of reading, and an intellectual pursuit where I could help people. The first legal job I landed was in corporate law; I quickly learned that that area still leaned into the “human story” and I was instantly hooked.

I love the diversity of the clients, advisors and other lawyers that I interact with every day, and the satisfaction I get from helping people achieve their goals or solve a problem that feels insurmountable to them. I set out to be useful and help make our clients’ lives easier, and enjoy when that comes together.

What is going on at the organisation? Are there any new programs and initiatives that you’re particularly interested in?

We are in an incredibly exciting time for the firm. This past month, we have been participating in “Kind July” for Stay Kind, which has been a great team building experience for us.

What tech-related initiatives adopted by the organisation, if any, are you most excited about?

We are in the process of adopting a new practice management software, Curo, which is going to be a game-changer for our efficiency and productivity. It will simplify our admin processes, making it easier for our lawyers to focus on finding solutions for our clients. 

These new systems and processes will complement our team’s technical skills and experience in M&A. It will allow us to build on our cost-effective, efficient and personable service offering in the transaction space, delivering high-quality results for transactions ranging from $1,000,000 to $100,000,000. 

What has been your proudest accomplishment in the last year or so?

We have worked on some incredibly high value and interesting transactions in the last 12 months, during which we have been fortunate to help our clients realise the value of the businesses they have spent their lives building – I am really proud to be part of that.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the past year and what advice can you give fellow lawyers about it?

The biggest lesson I have learned is to engage with and lean on specialist professional advisors in your network, especially for advice on subject matters outside your expertise. Knowing what you don’t know, and being able to equip your clients with the most fulsome available advice to help them achieve their goals is one of the biggest (and longest running) learnings of my career so far.

Also…you can never ask too many questions. Information is power.

What should the profession focus more on?

Being genuinely useful to clients. As lawyers, we should be listening far more than we speak. Our clients know their businesses best and it’s imperative to ask questions and learn about their motivations to deliver useful, cost-effective, and practical advice. Anything less than that is falling short.

Rolling out the same templates and precedent documents, and assuming that clients or matters are a one-size-fits-all model, doesn’t (and shouldn’t) meet the standard the community expects of us.

What are the challenges you expect in your practice, and in the business of law in general, going forward? What challenges are particularly pressing in the country’s legal industry?

The current economic climate is posing some challenges to the M&A market as a whole and there is some uncertainty on the horizon.

The introduction of artificial intelligence and the pace at which technology is advancing is also a huge challenge. Lawyers have an obligation to keep up with that while still always putting people first. We are a service industry, and we need to balance adoption of the best available technology with maintaining a personal connection with clients.

What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?

We have an incredible corporate team in place at Burch&Co, with the systems and processes in place to service transactions of all sizes and complexities with the resources, technical capability and experience to match. I am really excited about the potential that we have to be servicing and adding value to our community with the strong foundations we have built. 

If you had to defend a fictional antagonist/villain in court, who would you pick, and why?

Logan Roy from Succession. I’m not sure if he is a villain (I’m sure he would call himself a hero). But he would really keep his lawyers busy and on their toes with lots of deal changes and interesting corporate governance disputes.  

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