find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Sue Morgan-Dethick, General counsel of Sigma Pharmaceuticals

Sue Morgan-Dethick, General counsel of Sigma Pharmaceuticals

Given her strong background in media and entertainment law, Sue Morgan-Dethick's rather left-field decision to take up an in-house role at Sigma Pharmaceuticals seems like a pretty brave career…

Given her strong background in media and entertainment law, Sue Morgan-Dethick's rather left-field decision to take up an in-house role at Sigma Pharmaceuticals seems like a pretty brave career move.

Morgan-Dethick's interest in the law first blossomed in 1993 when she started working in the ABC's legal and copyright division in Sydney, first as an administrative assistant and then as a paralegal.

She started studying a law degree part-time through the Legal Profession Admission Board, and after graduating took a up role with Herbert Geer & Rundle (now Herbert Geer) in her hometown, Melbourne, specialising in media and entertainment law.

She stayed with the firm for nine years, becoming a senior associate, then special counsel, building up a solid reputation in the field. Then, in 2007, she made what at first glance seems a surprising decision to jump ship and take up an in-house role at pharmaceuticals company Sigma.

Though she enjoyed the culture of Herbert Geer, Morgan-Dethick explains that there were aspects of the law firm environment she didn't meld with, and the idea of working in-house had always appealed.

"I'd always wanted to move back in-house because ... so much of working in a firm - the time sheets, bringing in new clients, billing - was foreign to me and I struggled with it. But I just loved doing the legal work and I loved the client relationships. But in my field of media and entertainment all the in-house jobs are in Sydney," she explains.

A mother of three children, she explains that her eventual decision to make such a dramatic career shift and try her hand in a different industry was a pragmatic one.

"In 2002 I had my youngest child and from that time I worked from home pretty much because I live a very long way from the city. Which brings me to Sigma - I saw the job advertised which was 15 minutes from home," she says. "I ended up here more by luck than design because, in all honesty, I knew nothing about pharmaceuticals and nothing about the pharmaceuticals industry."

Now, as general counsel, she and an "incredibly able assistant" single-handedly deal with all of the ASX-listed company's legal work, which ranges from complex patent litigation, to franchising and commercial contracting. She admits it's been a steep learning curve, but says she's enjoyed the ride.

"Fundamentally if you're a commercial lawyer I think you should be able to turn your hands to any commercial work .... But it was a really steep learning curve because it was all so new. I've got up to speed now and you really do need to understand the industry and the technical terms because it's a very, very unique industry," she says.

"To be honest, I was very nervous about moving out of the [media and entertainment] work that I did because I guess it's seen as very sexy, and I was concerned pharmaceuticals would be very dry, but it's not. I've just found it fascinating - really exciting and challenging in a completely different way."

>> For the latest news, views and analysis of issues affecting in-house lawyers, check out Lawyers Weekly's dedicated in-house site www.lawyersinhouse.com.au

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Sue Morgan-Dethick, General counsel of Sigma Pharmaceuticals
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
protest
06:05
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Blocked
06:04
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
Warning
06:03
Lawyers warn against mandatory sentencing measures amid political jeers
Mandatory sentencing has become a topic for politicians on both sides of Federal Parliament to jostl...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...