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Partner Profile: John W Mann

Partner Profile: John W Mann

Every week we ask a law firm partner a series of rapid-fire questions about their career. This week: Middletons' John W Mann.

Which firm are you with?


When did you join that firm?

I joined Middletons in 1988 as an articled clerk.

When were you made a partner of that firm?

I have been a partner for approximately 17 years, being ‘made up’ in 1995.

Which firm were you at most recently prior to this?

I am a ‘lifer’ at Middletons.

What practice group are you with?

Corporate advisory – mergers and acquisitions/private equity.

What has been the most significant change to your practice area during your career?

The information revolution has not only changed M&A but, in my opinion, has fundamentally changed the practice of law. Quality has improved significantly with the continued development of word processing, precedent, document management and knowledge management systems. The development of email as the primary form of written communication has meant that turnaround times and client expectations have increased significantly, while the introduction of the mobile phone (and now the smartphone) means that partners are now available (within reason) on a 24/7 basis. Competition has also increased dramatically – the Australian legal services market is mature, highly-educated and very competitive.

What has been a major career highlight for you?

There have been many highlights in my career, including making partner at a relatively young age. In March next year I will celebrate 25 years at Middletons; I have been fortunate to observe and be part of the transition of Middletons from an “old-school conservative” Melbourne firm to a premium national firm.
I have been a member of the Middletons board for the last eight years and have been a foundation member of many firm initiatives, including pro bono, CSR and corporatisation. I have been lucky to work on many ‘big end of town’ deals, to be a part of the M&A mid-market ‘revolution’ and witness its growth in importance to the M&A market generally. I have also played a part in the development of a long list of very talented young lawyers, many of whom have gone on to be very successful.

What do you like about being a lawyer?

I am a ‘true believer’ and still have a passion for the practice of law. The work is always interesting, intellectually challenging and never repetitive, and I love the adrenaline rush associated with executing deals. I enjoy mentoring young lawyers and watching them develop into successful practitioners, and my team and my partners are not only excellent professionals but I count many of them as good friends. Also, as cliché as it may sound, I still believe that law is more than a business: it is a profession, with all of the duties and responsibilities that come with that.

What do you find challenging?

There are many challenges to running a successful M&A practice, including consistently providing first-rate, high-quality legal services to my clients, while also being time poor and constantly needing to focus on work-life balance. Keeping my team engaged, happy and motivated and continually networking, marketing and attracting new business are also key challenges.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

I am quite eclectic in my interests outside of work. I love spending time with my wife Tina and my two young children Thomas and Grace, as well as my extended family and friends. I am an avid collector of modern Australian art; I love good food and wine, and I am a tragic Hawthorn supporter.

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