Alex Eastwood (pictured), the general counsel of Gryphon Minerals Ltd, will join K&L’s Perth office as a partner in September.
“I saw the opportunity to really put all the practical and commercial experience I’d acquired in-house back into good use in private practice,” Eastwood told Lawyers Weekly when discussing his decision to go back into private practice.
Eastwood started his career at Clayton Utz and was also a partner at Deacons (now Norton Rose Fulbright) before making the move in-house seven years ago.
“I left private practice technically as a very capable lawyer, but now I’m returning with greater perspective and commercial judgement and a better appreciation and understanding of my clients’ business ... and I think with that experience I can provide real value to clients over and above [giving] pure technical legal advice,” Eastwood said.
Eastwood, who will be a partner in K&L’s energy, resources and infrastructure practice, said he is not worried about any slowdown in the WA economy.
“We’re suffering a little bit ... but I think that’s all the short term; I think in the long term the outlook remains strong.”
K&L Gates’ Australia managing partner Nick Nichola welcomed Eastwood’s appointment: “Alex is a welcome addition to our growing energy, infrastructure and resources team in Perth,” he said.
“He is a first-class operator and a very experienced lawyer having worked both in-house and in private practice. He understands what clients are looking for in their legal services provider and no one comes more highly qualified than Alex,” added Nichola.
Eastwood said work-life balance issues weren’t a concern for him in making the decision to move back to private practice, adding that he thinks the perception that in-house lawyers find it easier than private practice lawyers to achieve work-life balance is false.
“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. I think in-house lawyers work equally as hard as they do in private practice.
“My driver to go back to private practice was, [with] my diverse experience, I felt that was the perfect platform to capitalise on [it].
“You find in-house it’s a very narrow field: you work to one client, it can become very operational, whereas the advantage of private practice is you work for a variety of clients in a variety of industries; you actually evolve more as a lawyer and can provide greater value to clients.”