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Learnings from the chief legal officer of Melbourne’s largest hospital

Here, the chief legal officer and corporate secretary at Royal Melbourne Hospital discusses what brought her into her role and why it is fulfilling and shares advice for navigating roles that require diverse expertise.

user iconJess Feyder 10 January 2023 Big Law
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Speaking recently on The Corporate Counsel Show, Fleur Katsmartin, the chief legal officer and corporate secretary at Royal Melbourne Hospital, spoke about the aspects of her role that bring fulfilment and the skills needed for navigating a role such as hers.  

Ms Katsmartin’s journey began in private practice at Lander & Rogers; from there, she was seconded out to Health Direct Australia, where she became an in-house lawyer. After finding satisfaction from working in the healthcare industry, she made her next move to the Royal Melbourne Hospital. 

When asked about why she decided on her final role, Ms Katsmartin laughed: “I don’t really like working with lawyers. Early on, I realised that being in a law firm was probably not for me.”


Ms Katsmartin explained that she always considered herself to be more of a people person, working on the ground and utilising her communications skills. She also found that working in public health aligned with a deeper goal of serving the community. 

She realised she was best suited to an environment where she is dealing with a variety of different stakeholders whilst utilising problem-solving capabilities, which she “loves about the law”.

Ms Katsmartin also noted that the variability of the role is what makes it interesting. 

“No two days at the hospital are the same, and that’s what I really love about the job,” she said.

Her role as a corporate secretary is particularly fulfilling, she explained, as she is exposed to happenings on a higher level and gains the opportunity to provide strategic input. 

One of the most fundamental aspects of why the role is so satisfying is because it’s truly values-driven, Ms Katsmartin explained. Seeing the positive outcomes and the value that is provided really ignited her passion. 

The role also allows her a unique opportunity: to be in contact with a huge community of in-house legal providers across other health services. 

“We all communicate and bounce our lessons learned off each other,” she explained. This forum allows for significant problem-solving capacity across health because all the health services experience very similar issues.

When asked about advice she would give to in-house lawyers, Ms Katsmartin responded: “People need to learn how to pivot.”

As in-house teams grow, shift, and try to support an organisation, they must be able to support the varying and sometimes novel challenges that a business encounters. In the medical field, challenges are varied; from procurement to contracting, to medical negligence matters, along with furloughing of staff, occupation of violence and aggression — legal must be involved in many varying matters in the organisation, which requires in-house teams to be adaptable and diverse in their skill set. 

When a problem is brought to her, Ms Katsmartin explained that she often says: “I might not know the answer, but I will help you find it.”


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