Senior Lawyer Nick Slack is the second ambassador in our Minter Ellison Ambassador programme. Minters 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 Nick 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 QandA with Nick, so you can get to know the newest member of our team!
Welcome Nick! Can you tell us a little about yourself and the career that led you to Adara?
I’m a lawyer. I’ve worked mostly in big, international law firms (here in Australia and in London) as a specialist in banking and finance law. (It’s safe to say that this isn’t exactly what I dreamed of as a boy!) That said, the practice of law has enabled me to do a variety of different things including living and working overseas, working at what is now known as the Australian Human Rights Commission, working in legal clinics for the homeless and disadvantaged and at the other end of the spectrum, working for Big Law and an American hedge fund!
What were your expectations when you joined Adara… did we live up to them?
I had the benefit of speaking with my predecessor, Michelle Drury, so I largely knew what to expect, at least in terms of knowing what sort of work I might be doing. What I hadn’t expected was the genuine warmth and friendliness of all of the people who I work with. I hadn’t expected to be ensnared so completely by the work that Adara does and the way that it does it; by the people in Nepal and Uganda that we are working for and with; by the whole business for purpose concept. I simply didn’t expect to be so captive so quickly to what Adara does. I continue to be amazed not only by the passion and skills of those who work here but also by the generosity of our donors and others in the broader community.
What do you do on an average day at Adara? Is it very different to the work you do at Minters?
Anything and everything. The areas of law I touch upon here are many and varied – corporations law, financial services, employment, contract, insurance, reinsurance, intellectual property, tax etc – anything that comes, up we deal with. In contrast, at Minters I am a corporate finance transactional lawyer. In large firms, lawyers tend to specialise relatively quickly so if any issues arise outside of your area of expertise it is referred to the experts in other divisions.
What skills or experience have you acquired so far working for Adara?
I am learning (mainly as a result of constant hectoring by Cabrie Kearns, our fearless Partnership’s and Development Manager) not to write in such an ‘uptight, lawyerly fashion’! I am also learning about what drives NFP projects – what is important; what is less important.
What will you take back to Minters?
The most significant thing I will take back to Minters is a greater awareness of business-for-purpose and the significant things it can achieve. My observation from working in law firms and for clients who are involved in the financial services sector is that a great many people are looking for a platform on which to use their skills for the benefit of others. The practical reality is that most people in business, for whatever reason, are unlikely to completely give up what they do on a day to day basis and work in the not-for-profit sector even though they want to contribute in a practical way.
I believe that the Adara model and some of the initiatives we are working on at Adara will enable more and more people to do this. As more people in the business community become aware of the possibilities of business for purpose, I firmly believe that participation in this sector will skyrocket.
I look forward to the coming months as I learn more from our wonderful general counsel, Susan Burns and the rest of the staff I have the privilege to work with. Most importantly, I will continue to learn from the kids we work for – adopting their resilience, their ability to keep smiling and their willingness to grab the opportunities that Adara aims to provide them with.