We ask a law firm partner a series of rapid-fire questions about their career. This time: Scott Laycock, a construction partner at Gadens.
Which firm are you with?
When did you join that firm?
When were you made a partner of that firm?
Which firm were you at most recently?
Corrs Chambers Westgarth
What practice group are you with?
What has been the most significant change to your practice area during your career?
The continuing rise of strong, sophisticated in-house counsel teams. This makes for a very competitive landscape and puts pressure on external providers to find new ways of providing a valuable service to meet clients’ changing needs.
What has been a major career highlight for you?
Mentoring junior lawyers and seeing them develop into leading practitioners.
What do you like about being a lawyer?
As a transaction and disputes lawyer in the construction space, I am constantly engaging in new projects across a broad range of sectors (residential, commercial, retail, infrastructure) and clients (developers, contractors and consultants). I really like the diversity of that work and operating at the front and back end of the industry. I particularly enjoy being a construction lawyer because the contractual and legal issues are varied; the technical issues can be complex and can affect a large number of stakeholders on major projects. I get a lot of job satisfaction out of being able to make sense of these issues for clients and help them find a way through difficult problems, whether it be a seemingly intractable dispute or a tough contracting issue at the outset of a project. Seeing projects that you have had an involvement in dotted around the city or suburbs is also satisfying. As a partner you are always nurturing and building a practice (even when it might seem relatively well established) and so the client management side of things becomes a large part of your role. Notwithstanding the satisfaction I get from the legal work and management aspects of my role, I have always found that building strong personal relationships with clients and my colleagues is the most enjoyable and rewarding aspect of my career.
What do you find challenging?
As a partner, you are as much a businessperson as you are a professional adviser. The management side of things is one of the challenges of life as a partner. Presently we have a fantastic construction team with a large, but still growing team of fee earners. As the business unit leader, ensuring that the team is happy, well resourced, productive and cohesive is always a challenge. It’s a very dynamic environment because people’s careers and expectations are not static and the level and type of work is not always predictable so you have to manage those changes and try to anticipate changes in the marketplace, in your client’s business and within your own team.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
Given the amount of time we lawyers spend sitting on our rear ends, I like to be as active as possible in my spare time. I jog, surf, swim and play tennis and golf. I live near the beach in Sydney’s east. It is a fantastic place to live and has plenty to offer in terms of the outdoors, great food and culture. I’m a family man and luckily my wife and two daughters share my passion for sport, music, cinema and theatre. I love music and try to see my favourite live acts or go to festivals whenever I can (or am allowed). I’m a frustrated singer so sometimes I find a karaoke bar to terrorise the ear drums of other patrons (but that’s a secret).