‘Lawyers and firms need to be nimble,’ McCabes principal says

For Amanda Kmetyk, change and innovation in the profession extends from legislative changes to tech

‘Lawyers and firms need to be nimble,’ McCabes principal says
Amanda Kmetyk

Adapting to change has been one of the past year’s major achievements for Amanda Kmetyk. As COVID-19 upended the legal profession, the McCabes principal took pride in delivering excellent service to clients while providing needed to support to her colleagues and staying a step ahead of the pandemic.

Kmetyk believes that the onset of COVID-19 has lifted the importance of change and innovation in the industry, from being on the pulse of legislative changes to operational overhauls and tech adoption. Adaptability is crucial to both lawyers and law firms, she points out – something that McCabes is pushing with the recent launch of its new government division and the firm’s rebrand.

In this interview, Kmetyk talks her young daughter watching mum defend before a full High Court bench, the need to maintain access to justice across all aspects of the community and her pride in her colleagues.

What made you choose a career in law, and what's your favourite part of the job?

One of the reasons I chose a career in law is that it requires a mix of skills, and not least the endurance to keep going and innovative thinking to find new solutions. Providing legal advice is just the beginning.

With so many aspects to my role, it’s hard to pinpoint a favourite part. Working directly with government clients and practicing alongside passionate and equally dedicated colleagues are definitely highlights in my day-to-day work.

What is the most memorable case you've taken on/been involved in?

I was fortunate to have a matter heard before the full bench of the High Court in 2019. What made it even more special was that my children sat in the public gallery and got to share this moment with me. My five-year-old daughter still talks about the day we went to the High Court together.

What is going on at the firm? Are there any new programs and initiatives that you’re particularly interested in?

There is always a lot going on! One of the most notable is the official launch of our government division this month.

Our government offerings are unique in that many of our lawyers specialise in other areas; for example, litigation or property. We draw on their specific areas of expertise as we need them. It means the advice we provide to our government clients is specialised and provided by the relevant industry professional rather than an individual with a broad understanding across several areas.

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?

One of my greatest achievements in the last 12 months is maintaining “business as usual” for our clients, whilst quickly pedalling in the background to support my colleagues and stay abreast of COVID-19. I am very proud of the way in which my colleagues have embraced change, worked from home and ensured that the expectations of our clients have been met.

What should the profession and law firms focus more on?

Our profession and other law firms need to focus on change and innovation. This ranges from keeping abreast of changes in the law, to flexible working and the use of technology. COVID-19 has forced many within the industry to re-evaluate and implement new innovative measures, but we should be doing this regardless. Doing so helps to eliminate inefficiencies in day-to-day work and improves the experience for both staff and clientele.

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?

COVID-19 has changed everything. We are working from home, conducting hearings online and there is economic uncertainty. Both lawyers and firms need to be nimble. We also need to ensure that access to legal services remains within the reach of all sections of our community.  

What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?

A trip away!

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‘Lawyers and firms need to be nimble,’ McCabes principal says