Five minutes with… David Chong

David Chong, senior associate at Curwoods Lawyers tells Australasian Lawyer why he things the growing number of lawyers is the biggest issue in Australia’s legal landscape.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?
My sister is a lawyer and she inspired me to join the profession. A love of sports fuelling my competitive nature meant that a career as a litigation lawyer was the right choice for me.

How long have you worked at Curwoods Lawyers and what brought you to this position?
I started out as a lawyer in 2000 and joined Curwoods Lawyers in 2005. I've had the pleasure of working with Andrew Spearritt, lead workers compensation and dust diseases partner, and he's been a fantastic mentor.

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
One case involved a head laceration to an employee, caused by being struck by a stiletto that was taken off and thrown by a 6'4" heavy set gentleman.

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Billy Connolly. For his depth of knowledge (perhaps trivial at times) and obvious humour.  Myself in 20 years' time. I'd ask what mistakes to avoid and what mistakes I should definitely make again! And Richard Branson.  I'm inspired by his thirst for customer satisfaction.

You’re based in Sydney – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
Being a father of a beautiful but troublesome three-nager, the first place I think of going after work is home to be welcomed by a smile and an overly passionate story of what my daughter got up to that day.

What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?
"Your word is your bond and you only have one opportunity to make a first impression."

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I'm heavily involved in sports and have been the Club President of my local baseball and softball club for close to 10 years. I also fancy myself as a poker player and have a heavy involvement in men's and mixed indoor netball.

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
Owning and operating a suburban restaurant, wondering at what point I was ok with foregoing my weekends.

What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2015?
The number of lawyers practicing in New South Wales as at 9 October 2014 was 27,575 which is more than double the figures from 1995 (12,797).  This is growing too quickly. Couple that with the growing trend for alternative dispute resolution and 'no fault' schemes, and it could mean that there's less need for litigation lawyers.

What do you love about your job?
I love the challenge of exceeding client expectations and thinking of new ways to help clients achieve their desired outcomes. Curwoods Lawyers has a number of core values being respect, excellence, integrity, courage and perspective and I try to embrace those values in my daily interactions both internally and externally.

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
I'd set up a satellite office closer to home (Sydney's Hills District), and introduce nine-day fortnights and hot (healthy) lunches for all staff.

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