Five minutes with… Carly Stephens

Carly Stephens, lawyer at Curwoods Lawyers tells Australasian Lawyer what she’d do if she was PM for a day.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?

A love of studying the law. The law is forever challenging and changing, and working out how to apply it in each unique situation is what really fascinates me.

How long have you worked at Curwoods Lawyers and what brought you to this position?

I started at Curwoods in November 2014 as a Graduate. I studied at the University of Notre Dame and one of the Curwoods partners, Catherine Osborne was part of a student mentoring program there. The Assistant Dean recommended I catch up with her and she ended up offering me a job. I was impressed that the firm is very people-focused and that its values really resonated with me.

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?

A couple alleged that a removalist company had spread toxic substances all over their furniture, causing them to suffer a whole string of illnesses. One of the expert witnesses we'd consulted had to be dropped because he ended up being on criminal charges. Everything odd that could possibly happen, happened in that one case. I feel like I'm prepared for anything now.

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
  • Deborra-Lee Furness. The actress – she's using her celebrity to raise awareness around Australia's prohibitive adoption laws which I really admire.
  • Barack Obama. He's changed US history and he's had a massive impact on how we view the White House.
  • Beyonce. She would be so much fun. I love her music and how she's made that something bigger than just entertainment.
You’re based in Sydney – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?

O Bar at Australia Square is amazing for its views of the city – and it's literally in the building next door to work. I like to take friends from out of town up there.

What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?

"Be persistent – putting in the hard work will pay off". I'm proud of what I've accomplished in my career so far. When you work hard, the results come.

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?

You wouldn't know it to look at me, but I'm a huge rev-head and I love motorsports. It comes from my dad mostly; I'm the eldest daughter in a family with no brothers.

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…

A teacher. I was considering a teaching career for a while and I still like to tutor students when I can. It's great to see it when an idea clicks with someone and you've helped them to do something they couldn't before.

What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2015?

The changing face of legal services. Online competitors, legal process outsourcing and changes to how a firm is structured. This is a time of massive upheaval in the profession and how people perceive lawyers will also change.

If you had Malcolm Turnbull's job for one day, what would you do?

I would try to lift the standard of political debate in Australia. I don't like the way that a lot of our national conversation has descended into games and we're distracted by trivial matters. I imagine there are some very talented people who have been turned off from public service for that reason.

What do you love about your job?

I work with a great team in a firm with values that I admire. Curwoods invests a lot of time and energy into developing young lawyers and that's been a huge benefit for me.

What would you change about your job right now if you could?

I'm honestly enjoying being a lawyer too much to have anything too negative to say about it. If I had to choose something, it'd be time billing. There must be a better way to account for what we do!

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