‘Being a commercial lawyer is about more than just the law,’ Lander & Rogers partner says

For Emma Purdue, serving clients well is crucial – whether it’s as a nanny or a lawyer

‘Being a commercial lawyer is about more than just the law,’ Lander & Rogers partner says
Emma Purdue

Emma Purdue has long nursed a passion for helping others, and has done so in various roles – including nanny, waitress and bookshop manager. In her current role as a workplace relations and safety practitioner at Lander & Rogers, the same passion drives her service to clients – the law, she says, is “about delivering customer service, with intellect, to very discerning clients.”

Purdue recently ascended to the partnership at the firm, where she has been on a part-time job-share arrangement since 2018. Her achievement, she says, shows how flexible working does not have to hamper one’s career or keep one from doing great legal work while being able to spend time with family.

In this interview, Purdue talks about how relationships and systems have been strengthened by COVID-19, opportunities for lawyers who don’t “fit the mould” and getting trained as a mental health first aider.

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

Throughout university, I always loved helping people: as a nanny, waitress and bookshop manager. Being a commercial lawyer is about more than just the law – it's about delivering customer service, with intellect, to very discerning clients. 

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

Living and working through COVID-19 has been a humanising experience. It's afforded us glimpses into the personal lives of our colleagues and clients which, in many cases, has created stronger and more authentic relationships.

Living in Geelong, a regional city about one hour from Melbourne, I've been privileged to exercise flexible working for several years now. However, the pandemic, together with the firm's new [email protected] program, means more people than ever before are working remotely. This shift has led to improved technology support, better systems for remote collaboration and greater efficiency in a typical workday.

What has been your proudest accomplishment in the last year or so?

I am proud to have achieved partnership at a wonderful firm like Lander & Rogers, while also protecting the time that I choose to spend with my young children.

Being promoted to partner while working in a part-time job-share arrangement is proof that it is possible to work flexibly while doing great legal work and progressing your career.

What should the profession and law firms focus more on?

Law should focus more on creating genuine opportunities and career pathways for people who, for various reasons, may not "fit the mould" but nonetheless have a valuable contribution to make.

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?

The challenges of the last year have shined a light on how important it is for lawyers to maintain connection and wellbeing. I was recently trained in mental health first aid so that I can be a point-of-call for anyone at our firm who needs additional support, whether in their professional or personal life. As lawyers we often deal with challenging or stressful situations, so being able to open up, share those experiences with each other and work out issues together is really valuable.

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

Growing into my new role as a partner and a leader of the firm.

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