Five Minutes With… Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner, partner at Seyfarth Shaw, tells Australasian Lawyer why he’d have Elvis Presley for dinner if he could.

Chris Gardner, partner at Seyfarth Shaw, tells Australasian Lawyer why he’d have Elvis Presley for dinner if he could.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?
A combination of LA Law and the prospect of a double degree enhancing employment opportunities amidst the early 90’s recession.

How long have you worked at Seyfarth Shaw, and what brought you to this position?
I’ve been at Seyfarth Shaw for just over one year. I was attracted by the opportunity to join a dynamic team; establishing a firm new to Australia with US origins; dedicated to my specialty (labour and employment law); and known for its innovative service offering.

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
One having historical significance involving access to and from site by helicopter, litigation across the nation and front page media.

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley and Dame Margaret Thatcher. All were successful in their respective fields, charismatic and the subject of much controversy. Whilst Elvis might be challenged by Maggie, Bill would make us all feel right at home.

You’re based in Melbourne – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
Becco. Perfect for a business lunch, an intimate dinner or a cocktail at the bar. The tiramisu is Melbourne’s best and is worthy of a visit for this alone - which you can enjoy in the mood lighting of the bar.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
Lawyers are trained to be reactive. We wait for someone to give us work. This conditions a certain mind set and behaviour. However, the best lawyers are proactive, be it in the running of a matter, client care, finding work or growing their career. “What’s next” becomes as important as “what’s now”. So the best advice I’ve had (and shared) is to think ahead and plan.

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
My three children. The Melbourne Football Club. Elvis in concert 1969 - 1977. My involvement with the National Heart Foundation.

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A morning show TV host.

What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the litigation space in Australia in 2015?
The ongoing and ever increasing need for Australian workplaces to become more productive and cost competitive as the world becomes smaller. The Productivity Commission inquiry into workplace relations will provide focus here.

If you had Tony Abbot’s job for one day, what would you do?
I would make a “state of the union” address on national prime-time television, articulating the rationale for Government’s budget agenda, explained in simple terms.

What do you love about your job?
Helping employers solve workplace issues and the variety which comes from having a role which provides opportunities for strategic thought, as well as fast-paced litigation and advocacy and also sees litigation including regular opportunities for advocacy.

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