From debating to lawyering

Five minutes with DibbsBarker partner Juanita Rayson.

Five minutes with DibbsBarker partner Juanita Rayson.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I was fairly argumentative as a child and a primary school teacher herded me into debating, which I loved.  Coupled with a desire to help people and coveting the glamourous life of a Californian lawyer shown on LA Law, my future career was cast.

How long have you worked at DibbsBarker for and what brought you to that position?
I have been at DibbsBarker since February 2015.  I joined to grow the Corporate Commercial practice in the Brisbane office.

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I worked for a listed client who developed electronically initiated weapons technology.  At each year’s annual general meeting, the company would bring “samples” of the technology for shareholders to see. Even with all firing pins removed, the Queensland Police were always in attendance. I was grateful I wasn’t sitting next to the auditor one year when a modified semi-automatic shotgun was passed around!

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends who would they be and why?
Chloe Esposito – the modern pentathlon is now my new favourite sport
Vance Joy – “Riptide” singer
My year 7 teacher – he always pushed me to be my best, including debating.  And he had a regular supply of black jellybeans.

You’re based in Brisbane – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
Madame Wu.  You can have cocktails overlooking the river and the Story Bridge and stay on for an Asian fusion inspired feast for dinner.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
Be yourself.  You can only try to be someone you’re not for so long.

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
Any time I’m not at working at the moment I’m thinking about my home renovations and considering window dressings, door handles, taps … you get the picture.

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A newsreader.  My mother always thought I had what it took to be a newsreader, however I think she was just struck that Juanita Phillips had the same first name as me (if pronounced differently).

What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2016?
How to stay relevant in the face of a rapidly changing landscape as a result of digital disruption.  This is both a threat and an enormous opportunity for those bold enough to see it as positive.

If you had Malcolm Turnbull’s job for one day, what would you do?
Stop my son’s complaints about internet speed by sorting out the NBN rollout.

What do you love about your job?
I do work for excellent clients with an amazing group of partners and staff.

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
I would enlist more followers on my quest to run a paper-free practice. 

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