Five minutes with… Chiara Rawlins

Chiara Rawlins, principal at McCabes, tells Australasian Lawyer what she’d do if she had Tony Abbott’s job for a day.

What made you decide to become a lawyer? 
I never had my heart set on being a lawyer.  I got the marks at school, studied hard and fell into something I love doing.

How long have you worked at McCabes and what brought you to this position?
I started at McCabes in December 2006 as a paralegal in McCabes’ Litigation and Dispute Resolution team. I was admitted in 2008 and subsequently took on a role as a Solicitor within the same group. In 2009 I left McCabes and worked at another firm primarily in the area of banking litigation. I stayed there for 2 years and then returned to McCabes as an Associate in September 2011. I was promoted to Senior Associate in 2013 and this financial year, made Principal in McCabes’ Litigation and Dispute Resolution team. What has brought me to this position is hard work, commitment, mentoring and a lot of support.

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
As a first year lawyer I worked on a matter for a client who owned a unit. He wanted to take legal action against his neighbour for burning too much incense. I assume nothing more needs to be said. I hope he is not reading this.

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Beyonce (because my husband would kill me if I didn’t invite her although he probably wouldn’t be invited if she was coming),  Aretha Franklin (for entertainment) and Robin Williams (for the laughs and humility).

You’re based in Sydney – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
The Corridor in Newtown.  

What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?
My sister says to me on daily basis “don’t think you are better than us because you are a high-flying city lawyer”. There is probably something in that.

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?  
Eating, drinking, yoga and knitting. I love art and craft (embarrassing).

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A teacher. I enjoy watching others learn and develop their knowledge and skills.  I am a ‘people person’ and enjoy interacting with others and working in a team environment. I come from a family teachers.

What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2015?
Being flexible and adjusting in times of hyper-competition.

If you had Tony Abbott’s job for one day, what would you do?

What do you love about your job?
The people. I work with an amazing team full of wonderful and supportive people. The support that I received when recently promoted to a Principal of McCabes’ Litigation and Dispute Resolution team was a recent and memorable example of this.

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
Dress code. I would prefer if we could wear pyjamas and slippers to work.

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