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On the job in commercial law
Thomas Honeywill studied Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Business at the Queensland University of Technology and is now a lawyer at Thomson Geer.
What is your current role?
I have been a lawyer at Thomson Geer for just over one month. Before that, I was a graduate lawyer for twelve months.
What does your job involve?
As a lawyer, my responsibilities include drafting or reviewing documents, contacting clients or even just sitting back and brainstorming solutions to a problem. It all depends on what is required for the particular matter and how I can best assist my team.
What is your employer’s mission?
At Thomson Geer we strive to deliver best practice legal services to our clients, doing so efficiently, reliably and with an authentic and transparent approach. We are focused on enhancing the competitive position of our clients in whatever circumstances they find themselves in. This philosophy extends to the way we interact with each other. Honestly and transparently and supporting each other to be the best lawyers and people we can be.
What do you do on a daily basis?
One thing I love about my job is that every day is completely different. At Thomson Geer I work with a range of corporate partners, which means that one day I will be drafting loan documents, the next I will be assisting on the Completion of a sale of an international business and the day after I will be running to court. One thing that is consistent day to day is coffee!
Have you worked on any projects that you’re particularly proud of?
I have been astounded at the number of interesting projects I have been given the opportunity to be involved with at Thomson Geer. I have been most proud of assisting in the sale of an international life science and medical company for approximately twenty-one million dollars. Here, I was given a significant amount of responsibility to settle the transaction. This involved assisting in complex and lengthy international negotiations and the drafting of various completion documents. I can’t take all the credit though, help was always just across the hallway.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your role?
As I work with a range of partners, I find that time and project management are the most challenging aspects of my role. And I have found that communication, prioritisation and managing expectations are the best ways to meet this challenge.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role?
At Thomson Geer, I have found the most rewarding aspect of my role to be working closely with my colleagues. The ability to share my experiences with others, be that successes or failures, has created a tight-knit team environment which gives me something to look forward to every day.
What’s your background?
I worked in accounting for just over two years and whilst this often brings a few “boring” jokes, it has been a great foundation and pathway to being a corporate and commercial lawyer.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Brisbane, remarkably in the same house my father grew up in.
Where were you educated and what did you study?
I completed a dual degree, a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Business (Major: Accounting) at the Queensland University of Technology. Following these degrees, I also completed a postgraduate certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications.
What attracted you to that field of study?
I have always been interested in understanding how different businesses operate. My studies seemed to be an obvious extension of this interest.
What personal qualities are required for success in your position?
I think the most important personal qualities for a commercial lawyer in the early stages of their career are those that ensure swift self-development. Of these, I believe that communication and interpersonal skills, flexibility and adaptability, and eagerness to learn are crucial.
What’s one thing it might surprise people to learn is advantageous in your job?
Inter-personal skills. Naively, upon leaving university I thought that my technical legal skills would be the key to my professional career. However, over the last year I have learnt how important inter-personal skills and emotional intelligence are, from client conversations to operating as a team.
What are the limitations or downsides of your job?
After the first couple of weeks of work at Thomson Geer, I had the confronting realisation that although my studies had given me great technical knowledge, I still had so much to learn about practising law! I especially hadn't realised that in the early stages of their careers, lawyers are limited to what they can personally achieve – it is usually a team approach, with advice, experience and expertise often needing to be sought from colleagues before matters can progress.
If you could give three pieces of advice to your younger self at university, what would they be?
I’m sure there are quite a few things I could give a younger Thomas a bit of guidance on, but predominantly it all comes back to opportunity. At university opportunities are lurking around every corner. From mooting, to practical work experience and even international study exchange, universities offer a wealth of chances for you (or younger me) to grasp and benefit from. While I considered myself actively involved at university, it wasn’t until I entered the workplace and met other lawyers that I realised just how many opportunities there are. Based on this, my advice would be to firstly, seek out new opportunities; secondly, get involved and act on these opportunities; thirdly, use the experience from these opportunities to set yourself apart from others.