Five minutes with… Kate Hay

Kate Hay, partner at Corrs Chambers Westgarth, tells Australasian Lawyer what she’d do if she were prime minister for a day.

Kate Hay, partner at Corrs Chambers Westgarth, tells Australasian Lawyer what she’d do if she were prime minister for a day.
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I’ve always loved listening to people’s stories – it was the obvious choice.

How long have you worked at Corrs Chambers Westgarth and what brought you to this position?
I have just started - 1 June. As John Denton said to me when he confirmed my offer – it is like ‘coming home’ as I am now a partner in the firm’s IP group with Stephen Stern with whom I worked as a first year lawyer when I was starting out my career in IP.  It is nice to know that that I will never be opposed to the formidable Mr Stern again!

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I worked on the first shape trade mark case in Australia and ended up marrying one of the lawyers I was opposed to. As my husband said at our wedding – ‘I lost the case but won the girl’.

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Katharine Graham – a woman ahead of her time; Stephen Hawking – to show some respect, I spent chunks of my childhood in Cambridge and was way too flippant about the many hours I spent in his company with my parents; and Jeff Buckley if it is not too rude to ask a guest to sing.

You’re based in Melbourne – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
Eau de Vie – impossible to find (of course) but atmosphere, service and drinks all come together to make a pretty special evening.

What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?
If you wait for the perfect time to have a baby you’ll never do it, so just do it.

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
Many – none of which warrant special mention but I am particularly happy working in the garden.

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A singer – that assumes I have the talent which tragically I don’t.

What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2015?
Our entire business is about people, so we need to be constantly mindful about how people in our firm and our clients are feeling towards us – never take anyone for granted is a pretty good mantra to work with.

If you had Tony Abbott’s job for one day, what would you do?
Wearing my IP hat I would spend the day profiling the many brilliant and creative Australians (scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, architects – any many more) who generate our incredible home grown IP.

What do you love about your job?
Steeping myself in different industries and technologies to understand the incredibly clever inventions our clients come up with – essentially my job allows me to hang out with unimaginably brilliant and creative people.

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
I would be fully inducted and know everyone’s name!

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