Minter Ellison Ambassador: Meet Sarah Moritz

Senior Lawyer Sarah Moritz is an ambassador in our Minter Ellison Ambassador programme. Minter Ellison is one of the largest Australian-based corporate law firms, and is a company with a genuine commitment to creating social change through their many pro bono programmes. The Minter Ellison Ambassador programme sees a lawyer like Sarah join the Adara team in Sydney for 9-12 months at a time, working in close partnership with our General Counsel, Susan Burns. Here is a short Q&A with Sarah, so you can get a glimpse into the great work she’s doing here!

1. Hi Sarah, Could you Please tell us a little about yourself and how your career led you to Adara?

I am a Senior Associate at Minter Ellison in the Commercial & Regulatory team there. I am also a mother of three who enjoys body-surfing and hanging out with my family; preferably at the beach.

When my predecessor at Adara, Cecilia Cobb, returned to Minter Ellison I had come off a period of being very busy and focussed on a particular project, and I was looking for some kind of change to give me a different perspective on things. In this context the ‘for purpose’ nature of the Adara Group really appealed. And that is how I was led to Adara.

2. What sort of work do you do here at Adara, and how does that vary from what you normally do at Minters?

The work I do at Adara is very different from my usual day job at Minter Ellison. At Minter Ellison I have spent 10 years becoming specialised in competition and regulatory law.  Most of my day is spent within the confines of one key piece of legislation, and the regulation and enforcement activity that surrounds that. And within that there is a fair bit of project management.

At the Adara Group, the work requires me to jump between a lot of different areas of the law: general commercial contract review, not-for-profit and fundraising regulation, employment, immigration, corporate governance just to name a few.

But it isn’t just the subject matter that varies. Being on the client side brings home the need to focus in on what is critical. This is always a good reminder for commercial lawyers.

3. Is working at Adara different to what you expected? If so, how?

I was pretty well briefed before arriving at Adara, because Cecilia was terribly enthusiastic about the Adara team and gave me the low down on many things, from how the Adara Group works, to the type of work she had done, to the layout of the office.

But there were a few surprises, such as the fun and interesting ‘Angels’ to welcome new people into the team; as well as how ‘knowledge sharing’ is on occasion applied in weird and wonderful ways, like when I found myself among 12 or so Adarians receiving expert instruction on how to decorate a cup-cake and returning home with three beautiful treats for my kids.

But being serious, even though I have only been here for a short time, it has been touching how the Adara team has really taken me on board and invested in me.

4. How has the work Adara does impacted you? Do you have any particular stories?

The project work is very humbling. One Friday afternoon I read the Ebenezer Boys publication and was brought to tears. But Adara has also had an impact on me in more surprising ways. I recall one Skype session with Adara’s M&E Manager, Nanditha, and the Nepal Country Director, Pralhad. Nanditha had just started at Adara and so the session began with us each introducing ourselves. That included an introduction by reference to our families. This was new to me. And it is only since that experience that I would consider mentioning my family in a work introduction. It is so enriching for all of us if we bring our whole selves to work. That sentiment is also behind the Pride Respect & Inclusion at MinterEllison network (PRiME) and it has broad application.

5. What is the most important thing you’ll take away from your time at Adara?

My time here has been invaluable. It has demonstrated to me how the skills we develop can be applied in many varied ways, including to benefit women and children in need in Uganda and Nepal. In the process it has reminded me of the privilege it is to be a lawyer.

The most important thing I’ll take with me is a little difficult to articulate. If I had to, I’d probably sum it up by saying that in everything we do relationships are at the core; they are the common thread and they need to be nurtured. This makes everything both more enjoyable and effective. The Adara Group’s development work is effective because of the strength of the relationships with donors, among Adara staff and partners, and with beneficiaries. Adara Partners is able to engage on and provide top tier corporate advisory services because of the effective communication and collaboration between the CEO, the Corporate Advisory Director, Panel Members and clients. It is a good lesson for an introverted lawyer that nurturing relationships with colleagues and clients is both satisfying and key to providing effective legal services. It is a priority in the busyness of the everyday.

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