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Deacons chairman faces homelessness

Deacons chairman faces homelessness

Emails have been going around Deacons, alerting staff to the news that the Sydney chairman, Nick Abrahams, will be sleeping on the streets.

EMAILS have been going around Deacons, alerting staff to the news that the Sydney chairman, Nick Abrahams, will be sleeping on the streets, on cardboard, with nothing but a sleeping bag between him and possibly the harshest Sydney elements. 

Deacons staff and lawyers have been saying: "Look at how the global financial crisis has impacted Nick ... Help chip in some funds for him."

Abrahams will join 200 other senior executives, some of whom are the firm's clients, to sleep rough on the open ground at Luna Park next Thursday 18 June, an effort to give them perspective on what it is like to be homeless. 

The Deacons partner, and his peers from Allens Arthur Robinson, Hunt & Hunt, Maddocks, and peers at Middletons, will be given soup for dinner, and will sleep on a sheet of cardboard under the stars for one night. 

The one-night-out is hosted by St Vincent de Paul Society, which operates nearly 40 homeless services. 

Abrahams was talked into the night-out by a colleague and friend at another major corporation. 

"It seems like a worthwhile cause and something that, for me, when you walk past homeless people in the street,  I wonder what it must be like. Also what stories these people have. I think we're oblivious to it and are a bit hardened to it," Abrahams said in an exclusive interview with The New Lawyer

"It's a good opportunity to see first hand what it's like, but it's really about trying to raise an awareness within myself but also the community and raise some money for that," he said. 

No other Deacons lawyers have volunteered to join Abrahams on his rough night, however one lawyer did ask him whether it was the sort of thing you could ask your assistant to do for you, he joked. "But I do know quite a few people who are doing it, so it should be interesting."

Lawyers at the firm are stirred by the lead partner's decision to sleep out. "People have been great donating money and so forth. But there have been some jokes around: 'Look at how the global financial crisis has impacted Nick... Help chip in some funds for him'," he said.

"There has been the suggestion of a competition, though it hasn't come to fruition yet, where everyone can make out what will be on my cardboard sign."

Pressed as to whether pictures of a hardened Abrahams sleeping on cardboard would be released to the press, he said: "I don't think anyone wants to see that."

Would Abrahams grow a bushy beard for the occasion? "I already have a beard. I won't shave, we'll see how that goes," he said.

"They want it to be a legitimate experience. If it rains there will be shelter provided, but with no walls."

Soup will be provided to the chief executives, but there is no word yet as to whether this will be a Tetsuya-made broth with truffle oil. "I am not sure who is cooking. When one woman here found out I was doing it she offered to cook me soup. That was very nice but I think soup is provided," Abrahams said. 

Abrahams "fully intends" to head to the office the day after the sleep-out. He paddles most mornings, so intends to go to the office after that. "I have a lot of support from my paddling friends. So they are quite eager to see what I look like on the Friday morning. People have quite a morbid curiosity about what a night out in the rough will do to someone."

Allens Arthur Robinson chief executive partner Michael Rose ($11534), Hunt & Hunt Sydney managing partner Anthony Morrissey ($2,000), Maddocks CEO David Rennick ($290), Government lawyer David Hall ($250), Justitia Lawyers' director Jane Seymour ($600), and Middletons partner Jodie Masson ($420). 

Abrahams has raised about $870 so far. If you'd like to donate money for Nick Abraham's night under the stars, you can do so here.

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