SWAPPING jerseys with the legal profession is fast becoming a trend for the Australian Football League (AFL). The end-of-season shock of two appointments in the opposing areas resembled a draft trade between the two codes.
The AFL’s Wayne Jackson has finished his term as CEO and is this year running on the legal field, joining Minter Ellison as a non-legal consultant. Advising on strategic issues, coaching partners, mentoring junior lawyers and networking with clients are all part of his new Adelaide-based role.
Coincidentally, last month saw a reversal of this switch with the appointment of Corrs Chambers Westgarth partner Adrian Anderson as the AFL chief operating officer. Like Jackson, who was approached by Minter Ellison after his retirement from full-time work, Anderson did not apply for his new position and attributed the promotion at least in part to his legal background.
“The law teaches some fantastic disciplines and skills to equip people to make decisions in a business, rather than strictly legal environment,” he said.
The same might be said when the stone is turned for Jackson’s new role in the legal industry. He admits that the transfer is an unusual one, but stresses that the most notable difference for him personally is not the role itself, but being amongst the hard-working legal team.
“Here at Minter Ellison they work very hard and I am impressed by the talent and enthusiasm,” he said. “I can’t comment on the legal field itself this early on though, I’ll reserve my opinion on that.”
Jackson sees his new role as a challenge, but is grateful for the break from full-time work and the pressure of his high-powered role as CEO.
“Being CEO of the AFL is exhausting and has very heavy time responsibilities. It takes a lot of hours to get the job done,” he pointed out.
“I had not planned to take on a new CEO role but was looking for something stimulating and hopefully helpful.”
After 25 years in the Australian wine industry, seven years as CEO of the AFL, and a current position on the board of Meat and Livestock Australia, Jackson’s new part-time role with Minter Ellison should run as smoothly as a hot knife through butter.
For Minter Ellison, Jackson sees his strengths as consulting on strategic issues and coaching staff. “Most legal firms are focused on the provision of their legal and consulting services. It is helpful to have someone outside the firm helping those inside with strategy for clients who need it,” he explained to Lawyers Weekly.
“Whether you are dentists, doctors or lawyers, having someone with a general background is useful for strategic changes,” he added.
Minter Ellison’s Adelaide office managing partner, Nigel McBride, is delighted with Jackson’s appointment, and sees it as a “coup and a major value add to our clients”. In fact, even so early into the year, clients are already approaching the firm to use Jackson for strategic issues.
“I hope to add value to the service Minter Ellison provides to their clients,” said Jackson when pressed on how he sees himself succeeding in his new role.
Revealing a tact reminiscent of his previous position, he explained he would do his best to do the best for the firm. “I hope to be there for as long as I am providing this support and help,” he said. “But the day I cease benefiting them is the day I’ll walk away,” he laughed.