Partner promotions 2020 – meet more of our new partners #2

Meet Navdeep Benning

 

What advice would you give anyone wanting to become partner?

Make your clients the centre of your world. Build strong relationships, look after those relationships and then build more …and don’t give up!

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself

I once had a close encounter with a Great White Shark. After a few [heart stopping] attempts, it decided not to expend any more energy trying to get into the cage I was diving in and decided to go looking for an easier meal – and left me [able] to tell the tale.

What are you most excited about in the next 12 months?

The European Funds Finance market has evolved from a small, niche market into the multi-billion dollar industry it is today. It is a competitive market constantly looking for the next growth opportunity. The pace of its growth and the opportunities that lie ahead are hugely exciting. As the industry continues to move on from its traditional heartland of subscription facilities, I look forward to being part of the community which is leading the way in creating new, bespoke and innovative financing solutions for funds.

What will a law firm and partner of the future look like?

In both cases, success will lie with those partners and law firms that act with equality and fairness in every aspect of their business. Those that understand the importance of not just making profit but of giving back and investing in the communities in which they operate and, perhaps most importantly, that tread lightly in the world and do their part to leave behind a healthy and thriving planet for future generations.

Meet Andrew Kim

What do you think sets Ashurst apart from other firms?

The ability to bring our global expertise to the client, whenever (and wherever) the need for it arises.

What do you enjoy most about working in the legal sector?

The fact that being curious is rewarding, as it helps you become a better lawyer.

What are you most excited about in the next 12 months?

Being part of the post-COVID world and leading the changes to our working life that it will bring (which is clearly happening already).

How do you see the legal sector further transforming in the next five years?

Virtual interactions will become far more common and the need for efficiency of delivery will dominate. The challenge will be to balance this against the risk it creates.

What will a law firm and partner of the future look like?

Pretty good, if you are at Ashurst!

Meet Vicki Aron

What do you think sets Ashurst apart from other firms?

One of Ashurst’s core values is “thinking differently” and that value underpins everything that we do at Ashurst – from using legal technology to better serve our clients, to developing innovative solutions, to collaborating across jurisdictions. When working at Ashurst, you truly feel like you are part of a global team.

What do you enjoy most about working in the legal sector?

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I enjoy working on complex projects that require collaboration across many different practice groups including planning, construction, regulation, corporate, finance and tax.

What advice would you give anyone wanting to become partner?

Try to find a niche area of practice so you can differentiate yourself from other partners in your team. Look for mentors both within and outside of your practice group who can support and guide you through the partnership process.

What are you most excited about in the next 12 months?

I am excited to see the direction that the real estate industry will take over the next 12 months. COVID has obviously had a significant effect on all facets of the real estate industry and we are entering a period of the unknown. I am looking forward to working with clients as they adapt and find ways of meeting the challenges posed by the pandemic.

What will a law firm and partner of the future look like?

The law firm of the future will embrace flexible working arrangements and will recruit lawyers regardless of their geographical location. A partner of the future will support these arrangements and find innovative ways to ensure that his or her team stays connected.

Meet Tihana Zuk

What do you think sets Ashurst apart from other firms?

Our culture is genuinely collaborative and we embrace diversity. As an Ashurst “lifer”, you might say I’m biased or ill-placed to compare, but it’s what attracted me to the firm many (many!) years ago when I was interviewing for summer clerkship positions. This is a place where talented people from all backgrounds are supported, and can thrive and progress.


What do you enjoy most about working in the legal sector?


The continuous learning curve – there isn’t a day on the job that I don’t learn something new. It’s professionally (and personally) satisfying to unpick a really complex legal issue and find a creative way through it.


As competition lawyers, we’re also really lucky to have a great variety of work; in any given week, we’re likely to be collaborating with other parts of the firm on M&A deals or major projects, working as a team to help respond to a high stakes ACCC investigation, or providing strategic advice to our clients on mission critical issues.

What advice would you give anyone wanting to become partner?

I read somewhere “Your career is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself. Enjoy the scenery along the way.” It’s really cheesy, but I think it really applies to anyone looking to pursue partnership.


With that in mind, it helps to pick an area of law that you love (or if that’s too high a bar, find interesting) and a firm / team that’s a good cultural fit for you.


Take every opportunity you can to develop your technical skills and broaden your expertise. This is obviously a key building block, but don’t wait for the day you feel sufficiently expert to start focusing on other key skills like networking, business development and people development. These are just as important, and the earlier you start developing them, the better (and less awkward).

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself

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I was born in former Yugoslavia, and my family came to Australia (via Austria) through a refugee programme after civil war broke out. English is technically my 5th language (if you count, now broken, Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian as separate languages). I learned my lesson not to promote my multilingual “skills” after being called to the Federal Court to assist a distressed war crimes victim, who was a witness in defamation proceedings being defended by Ashurst.

How do you see the legal sector further transforming in the next five years?

We have come a long way in the space of a few months in adopting remote working and flexible work arrangements. It’s hard to see this trend reversing – but the challenge will be finding ways to effectively mentor younger lawyers, build rapport with new starters, and help them develop, while not being in the same place. Law firms that find ways to do this well will come out on top.


Increasing automation and AI developments will also impact the way we work and the type of work we do. The reality is that a lot of the work lawyers do can (and will) be automated. It’s hard to know if that will happen in the next 5 years, but it will happen. When I think of my first document review as a junior lawyer – sitting in a room with a bunch of folders and masking tape – and compare that to the document reviews our lawyers do today (all done on sophisticated electronic databases, sometimes spanning millions of documents, with the assistance of AI), I’m confident (and grateful for future generations!) that we will see more change in this area.


Lawyers will focus on the things that can’t be automated, like complex issues involving judgement calls based on experience, advocacy work (verbal or written) that can’t be based on a precedent, cross-practice or multi-disciplinary projects (and, of course, relationship, people and communication skills).


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