Five minutes with… Julie Jankowski

Julie Jankowski, partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, tells us about spending her holidays in court with her court reporter mother.

Julie Jankowski, partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, tells us about spending her holidays in court with her court reporter mother.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?
My mother was a court reporter/stenographer and when I was younger she would take my sister and I to court with her when we were on school holidays and we would sit at the back of the court and colour in Garfield pictures or read books (probably about Garfield’s adventures).  I remember one case at the Darlinghurst Court House which involved drug smuggling in the poles of a hanglider and the biggest hanglider I had ever seen was assembled inside the Court (ok, big to a 12 year old and probably the first hanglider that I had ever seen).  I thought it was awesome and I also thought being a lawyer looked like such a fun job!  Strangely, I never considered specialising in criminal law or litigation but from that moment on I never doubted that I wanted to be a lawyer.

How long have you worked at Herbert Smith Freehills, and what brought you to this position?
I have been at Herbert Smith Freehills for just over 5 years.  I started at the firm when I returned from London in 2009.  Immediately prior to working at Herbert Smith Freehills, I was the legal director for the UK and Ireland division of the global fashion giant Inditex which is the parent company of the Zara and Zara Home brands.  At Zara, my Monday morning workload meetings were replaced with Monday morning fashion parades!

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I have done a bit of insolvency work over the years and the insolvency matters that I worked on were never dull.  Probably one of the most memorable was the sale of a Whitsundays dive business… not because of the matter but because of the completion.  The client and I caught a light plane to Airlie Beach (back when there was a grass air strip there) and we hit a storm.  I was terrified but was comforted by the fact that the client was calm, particularly as he regularly did this flight.  It wasn’t until we were having a post completion drink that he told me how terrified he was and how he thought we would die.

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Daniel Craig, so that I could look into those eyes all evening.
Amal Clooney so she could dish the dirt on George and also so she could talk about all of her work, particularly with Julian Assange (plus George might pop in for an after dinner coffee… he does love Nespresso after all!).
Kirsten Wiig of Bridesmaids fame to lighten the mood and because I would love her comedic spin on everything.

You’re based in Sydney – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
I love Sydney Harbour so anywhere near the water works for me.  I like the Opera Bar but, even though it is underground, I do love Palmer & Co.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
Keep your eye on the prize!

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I moved to Sydney about 18 months ago and I have been learning to sail.  Twilight racing on Sydney Harbour is such a great way to end the working week!

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A rock star!  Only slight insignificant little problem is that I have no musical talent.

What do you love about your job?
Being a commercial property lawyer, I love the tangible side of the transactions that I work on.  There is nothing better than seeing a development that you have been working on come out of the ground and become a landmark within a City where people come to work and socialise.  I have worked on a number of fund through sale transactions over the past few years and, late last year, I went to the topping out ceremony for 567 Collins Street in Melbourne.  It was wonderful to be standing on the roof of the building that I have been involved with from acquisition stage when it was a hole in the ground all the way through the pre-commitment leasing stages, the construction stage and the fund through sale to an end investor. 

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
My office… I’ll take the one with the Harbour view instead, thanks!

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