Ken Hickman's goal as a child was to be able to contribute to society like dad did
Ken Hickman was born into a family of police officers, so law was in his blood. He aimed to be a prosecutor after being inspired by his dad, a detective in the homicide squad.
A summer internship took him in a different direction and to different countries, and today, Hickman is a partner in HFW, supporting the global firm’s construction and commercial litigation practice.
In this May interview, Hickman talks about how support staff are the ones who “keep the show on the road”, the challenge of changing practices and relocating family, and the importance of being more self-aware and socially conscious.
What made you choose a career in law, and what's your favourite part of the job?
Coming from a family of police officers, I entered law school with the aim of becoming a criminal lawyer, and one day, a prosecutor. I was so proud of my dad, who was a detective in the homicide squad, and my childhood goal was to contribute to society in a similar way! I fell seriously off course after a summer internship in a law firm's construction disputes practice, and – for better or worse – that was that!
My favourite part of this job is the people and the day-to-day engagement with clients, fellow lawyers and (the most important of all) support staff – who keep the show on the road.
What is going on at the organisation? Are there any new programs and initiatives that you’re particularly interested in?
I've only just (re-)joined HFW [as of the interview date], but I'm very impressed by the large team of experienced construction lawyers that the HFW Australia partners have assembled. I'm looking forward to contributing to a range of initiatives we have planned to assist new and existing clients navigate turbulent times in the energy and on/offshore construction sectors.
What has been your proudest accomplishment in the last year or so? Or what’s the biggest lesson you learned in the past year and what advice can you give fellow lawyers about it?
The challenge of returning home to Melbourne after spending a decade in Perth and, before then, Singapore. Shifting a family and practice is never easy but it's been great to come home and reconnect with all of our friends and former (and new) colleagues. The best advice I ever received (you know who you are) is to be brave.
What should the profession focus more on?
Being more outward-looking, self-aware and socially conscious. Very recent events have shown just how far the profession has to go. We can all do more to actively support important social initiatives and pro bono programs.
What are the challenges you expect in your practice, and in the business of law in general, going forward? What challenges are particularly pressing in the country’s legal industry?
Retaining and providing a pathway for the best talent.
What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?
Getting to know and work with the crew at HFW Australia, and contribute wherever I can to the continued growth of the firm in Australia.
If you had to defend a fictional antagonist/villain in court, who would you pick, and why?
Any Joker character!