Pearce IP's AU litigation head shares the most important lesson she learned from her old job

Helen Macpherson gained a "growing awareness" of her leadership style at Baker McKenzie

Pearce IP's AU litigation head shares the most important lesson she learned from her old job

Helen Macpherson could have been a research scientist, an art historian or an interpreter. But she chose the law, and after 25 years in the profession, knows where she thrives most in this field.

The former Baker McKenzie partner jumped to Pearce IP last month to head up its litigation team in Australia; in this interview with Australasian Lawyer, Macpherson shares the most important thing she brings from her old job to her new job and talks modelling work/life balance as a leader.

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

I initially chose a career in law because I really enjoyed the study of law. I loved being able to use the law to solve problems and find solutions. Now, having worked as a lawyer for 25 years, I can say that I thrive most when I am able to work as part of a highly collaborative team with clients, using the law to provide commercial solutions.

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You were previously with Baker McKenzie – what in your opinion is the most important thing you’ve learned during your time there that you’ve been able to apply in your new role as AU litigation head at Pearce IP?

I would say that the most important thing I learned was a growing awareness of my own leadership style and becoming confident and comfortable with it. This allowed me to be successful not only in my professional career as a lawyer, but also as a thoughtful leader who can build a professional team who are driven to exceed in all aspect of their roles.

What tech-related initiatives adopted by the organisation, if any, are you most excited about?

As a relatively new IP firm, Pearce IP has been focused on remaining contemporary and agile when determining tech-related initiatives, above all, doing everything we can to ensure the security of our client and corporate data. We have worked hard at ensuring our matter management, trade mark/patent, and accounting systems are flexible enough to meet our needs as we grow as a firm.

Having expanded into New Zealand in the past six months, we are excited about the cutting-edge resources now available to our team, new desktop setups, 24-hour access to support and knowing our systems are integrated across Australia and New Zealand.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the past year and what advice can you give fellow lawyers about it?

I would say the biggest lesson I have learned is learning to focus on what drives and fulfils me in my career, and to ensure that what I set out to do is challenging, interesting and continually motivates me. So, my advice to others would be to work out what matters to you and what drives and energises you – then do it.

What should the profession focus more on?

I would say that the profession needs to focus more on creating a truly diverse and inclusive profession at all levels and in particular at the leadership level – a profession which reflects the incredibly diverse society that is modern-day Australia.

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?

A perennial challenge for lawyers in commercial practice is how to achieve a sustainable balance between work and other facets of your life. It is very easy for work to become all-consuming, which is not healthy physically or mentally. As a leader, I need to practise this, so I can provide a positive example to my team of work/life balance.

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

It is simple. I am looking forward to collaborating with Naomi to lead the Pearce IP legal team and to partnering with our clients on their IP mandates.

If you weren’t in law, what do you think you’d be doing as a career?

I was one of those people with a wide range of interests from science and maths to history, arts and languages, so I could have ended up a research scientist, an art historian or an interpreter.

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