Five minutes with… Shelley Williams

Shelley Williams, senior lawyer at Ai Group Workplace Lawyers, tells Australasian Lawyer what she loves about being a lawyer.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?
It’s bizarre but I remember the moment I made the decision to be a lawyer quite vividly. I was in year 10 at high school and I proclaimed to a few of my friends (who probably scoffed at the time) that I was going to become a lawyer. I didn’t really consider any other career path and went on to do a straight law degree. I know what they say about putting all your eggs in one basket but I was definitely that person!

How long have you worked at AI Group Workplace Lawyers, and what brought you to this position?
I’ve been with Ai Group and its law firm, Ai Group Workplace Lawyers for nearly three years. I previously worked at the Fair Work Ombudsman and one of its predecessor organisations, the Workplace Authority. I’ve always worked in workplace relations so it was a natural progression for me to land a job at Ai Group Workplace Lawyers (and I’m very glad I did as it’s a fantastic place to work). 

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
Employment is an area of law that deals with human behaviour so there are always interesting and controversial cases in this line of work. I’ve dealt with workplace assaults, affairs, and everything in between.

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
I was born in South Africa so to have had dinner with Nelson Mandela would have been incredibly inspiring.
For some light entertainment and comedic relief I’d also invite Kim Kardashian and baby North to dinner (sorry Kayne West you wouldn’t make the cut!).

You’re based in Sydney – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
I’m enjoying the Butler at the moment. It’s in Potts Point and offers delicious food, cocktails and a lovely view. 

What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?
It’s entirely cliché but the best advice I’ve been given is to “just do you and the rest will follow”. It was in the context of discussing being the best version of yourself. There really isn’t any point comparing yourself to others. All you can do is get up every day and try and be better than you were yesterday… I told you, entirely cliché but trust me it works!

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I love being outdoors and spending time with my loved ones. I’m also about to start pottery lessons which I can only imagine is going to be a complete and utter disaster but entirely fun!

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
Running my own business, something to do with lifestyle and leisure maybe?!  

What do you think will be the single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in the near future?
The legal market has needed to adapt quickly to a rapidly changing economy and world.  The biggest challenge (and this is from my own personal perspective) is being agile and progressive in an industry that is founded on tradition and doing things as they’ve always been done. We need to shake things up or we’re going to be left behind by other movers and shakers within the industry who have the tenacity and conviction to do things differently. 

If you had the Prime Minister’s job for one day, what would you do?
This is perhaps a controversial response but I’d prefer not to be the Prime Minister for a day! The job of Prime Minister is not a position I envy!

What do you love about your job?
I honestly love so much about my job. As a legal practitioner, Ai Group Workplace Lawyers is a unique organisation as we work as lawyers in the context of the law firm but also as consultants and advisers to our members in the context of Ai Group, which is an employer association. The work is therefore diverse and challenging and our members make every day engaging and enjoyable. If I had to drill it down to one thing I love the most I’d have to say the people. My colleagues are amazing! 

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
I wouldn’t change a thing!

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