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On the job as a Senior Consultant at KPMG Law
Peter King studied Bachelor of Laws at the Queensland University of Technology and is now a Senior Consultant in the Tax Dispute Resolution & Controversy team at KPMG Law.
What is your role?
I am a Lawyer (Senior Consultant) in the Tax Dispute Resolution & Controversy team at KPMG Law in Brisbane. KPMG Law is KPMG’s affiliate law firm in Australia.
What did you study?
I graduated from a Bachelor of Laws at the Queensland University of Technology in 2014.
Where did you grow up?
I have always lived in Brisbane. I was born in South Brisbane, and went to the local primary school and high school.
Can you tell us about a life experience that has influenced who you are today?
I feel that one of the more important stages of my life started in grade 7, when my parents thought it would be a good idea for me and my sister to learn martial arts. I loved it. I would practice what I learnt in classes every day, I would watch videos to improve my technique and to learn new techniques, and I would push myself each time I trained, whether in classes or at home. I would also quite often fight with my sister – but I guess we all have to take the good with the bad. After a few years, I started assisting with classes, and later became an instructor.
I believe in many ways the workplace is no different from the training centre, and a career (albeit short for me so far), is no different to practicing martial arts. Among many other attributes, practitioners should always strive to learn new techniques and improve existing techniques; practice and build on the skills and knowledge developed; and push themselves to strive to be the best that they can be in their respective roles.
What does your team at KPMG do?
Broadly, the role of our team is to assist clients to prepare for, manage and resolve disputes with Commonwealth, State and Territory revenue authorities. In doing so, our team:
- Acts for clients at all stages of a matter, from pre-transaction stage all the way through to litigation;
- Assists clients with communicating transparent and correct information to the tax revenue authority and the market;
- Provides strategic advice for managing a client’s tax affairs, including through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms; and
- Advises clients on tax technical matters.
Our clients range from high profile multinational corporations, large domestic companies and trusts to high net worth trusts and individuals.
What does a typical day of work look like for you?
One of my favourite parts of my job is that there is no exact set of things that I do. Rather, the team works together to do what is required to prepare for, manage and resolve the client’s tax disputes. Examples of the tasks I have been involved in include drafting responses and correspondence to the ATO and to clients, preparing witness statements and other statements, drafting agreements, questioning witnesses, attending conferences with clients and counsel, and attending court. I have also been fortunate to work in the Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin offices during the time I have been with the Tax Dispute Resolution & Controversy team!
Could somebody with a different professional or academic background do your job?
Absolutely! (As long as they have a law degree!) As a junior staff, I think a key characteristic required in my job is a willing and dedicated attitude towards learning and development. Quite often, I come across articles online which talk about various jobs in the future becoming automated and replaced with technology. I believe working with the Tax Dispute Resolution & Controversy team at KPMG Law is not one of those jobs. Every client’s background and personality is unique, every fact pattern (albeit possibly similar) is individual, and while the same questions may be asked in different cases, every response and piece of communication will differ. There are constantly new skills to be learnt, and existing skills to be further developed.
Which soft skills are essential for success in your role?
A skill which I feel is key in my role is communication. Often, there is a high level of particularity around the language used, for example: to create a particular feeling in the mind of the audience, to navigate around tricky facts or legal provisions, or to select the amount of information to be provided in various circumstances. In addition, quite often, I find the most challenging aspect of my job is striving to communicate complex facts or idea in a clean and simple way. This skill, like any other skill, can be learnt and developed.
What’s the coolest thing about your job?
I believe that while the work which different firms or teams do may be similar, each team is unique. The most enjoyable part of my job is working with a dynamic team of highly talented and very genuine people across the Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne offices.
In addition to working with the KPMG Law team, I am also able to engage regularly with the wider KPMG firm, who come from a very diverse range of educational and personal backgrounds. Many did not study law or accounting at university, and have held quite varied work experiences in the past.
What are the limitations of your job?
There are occasions on which I feel out of my depth with the tasks I am undertaking. However, I find that there is always assistance available within the team, and there is a strong focus by the senior staff on the learning and development of the team. I find that while at the time certain tasks may seem a little overwhelming, it is often those tasks which provide the best opportunities to think about what the task actually involves, learn to break down those tasks into more manageable steps, and ultimately gain valuable experience from undertaking those tasks.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a law student?
- Always be yourself. If you try to be someone else, you can never be as good as them. But if someone else tries to be you, they can never be as good as you.
- Be prepared. If you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail.
- Build as many connections as you can at university. Building connections in the real world is much more challenging!