CLM partner urges lawyers to get to know their fellow practitioners

Chad Wallace would love to see a greater focus on networking and socialisation opportunities for new lawyers

CLM partner urges lawyers to get to know their fellow practitioners
Chad Wallace

For Chad Wallace, establishing collegiality within the profession is critical, especially to newer lawyers who entered the profession during the COVID-19 era. The recent strong focus on mental health and workplace culture has been, he says, “positive for the profession”. 

In the second part of this interview, Wallace talks the contribution of tech to isolation among lawyers, why lawyers need to work on their soft skills, and how he plans to celebrate his 10th wedding anniversary.

What should the profession focus more on?

There has been a big focus in the profession on mental health and workplace culture over the past few years, which has been positive for the profession. I would like to see this focus continue as well as a focus on increasing collegiality within the profession. Unfortunately, Covid evaporated most of the networking and social opportunities for the profession and they have been slow to re-establish. This has particularly impacted lawyers who were admitted in the year or two prior to Covid, those who have been admitted since or lawyers who have relocated, as they often do not have the benefit of existing networks. 

Technology, such as the rise in attending webinars instead of in-person seminars or conferences and the tendency to send an email instead of picking up the phone, has also contributed. If we as a profession focus more on getting to know our fellow practitioners, this will not only positively affect the culture of the profession but also improve the mental health of lawyers and open new avenues for support and personal growth.

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?

There will be increasing pressure on recruitment and staff retention as the economy improves and we move into the next phase of the economic cycle. We are working on a number of initiatives on this front which I am excited to be a part of and work on around the partnership table. 

The other challenges I see for the business of law going forward also present opportunities, such as the rise in AI and automation of many processes. As a profession, we need to focus on our “soft skills” as clients will have greater access to the law and resources and will turn to us more and more for our experience and judgement.

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

I’m really looking forward to learning about how the firm ticks, including all the not-so-glamourous aspects, like how much it costs to keep the lights on. I feel really fortunate to be joining such a successful partnership made up of such a great group of people, so for the first year or so, I plan to absorb as much from my fellow partners as possible. 

We also have a family holiday to Hawaii planned and I’m excited to show my two young boys the sea turtles, go whale watching and see the Friday night fireworks on Waikiki beach for my wife and I’s 10-year wedding anniversary.   

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

In year 9 and 10 I wanted to be an architect; however, I soon discovered in graphics technology class that I was useless at drawing. Later in math class, I also learned that I wasn’t too flash at algebra and calculus either, so that dream was well and truly quashed. 

I really liked economics, history and classical studies in the later years of secondary school, and was considering teaching as a career. But if I had to turn back the clock now, I’d probably choose something else property related. I really like the tangible nature of property and love a site visit.  

 

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