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A spotlight on Helix humans

Michael Chesterman
Michael Chesterman June 8, 2020

While talking with Sarah Dixon as part of the Essential Series the other day, I was reminded that a business’s greatest asset is its people.

In this crazy COVID-19 world, while I have never wavered in my admiration of all our Helix Legal people, before talking to Sarah, we had all been completely focused on clients and the wider industry.  I have concluded that in the current environment, now more than ever, it is so important for all of us to look at the humans who make up our businesses and say thank-you.

Putting aside the immense satisfaction I get from being a non-lawyer member of the fantastic Helix team, where our focus is providing legal and associated advisory services to the construction industry, the greatest personal satisfaction I get from doing what I do is seeing the incredible growth of our young legal clerks.

All are benefiting from opportunities to learn and be mentored by experienced lawyers. There is no ‘back of the office’ locations, barely having any interaction with experienced lawyers, for these young people. I regularly witness them being heavily involved in matters, in the process receiving great guidance and patient support.

I am very proud to say that I know this support has continued since we have been all working remotely now for several months using Microsoft teams, Zoom, collaborative document sharing, etc.

Helix Legal clerks

The first thing I want to say about our three legal clerks is that they are terrific young people, with high levels of energy and always looking to display initiative. They all play vital roles in us delivering legal services to the construction industry through new and innovative ways.

We as a leadership team, encourage all our young people to bring their ideas to the table and bring who they are as people to work every day.  We invest in the development of our people because it is our duty to pay it forward. We believe that is how you build a successful business.  Our up and coming lawyers are on the cusp of brilliant careers in the law.

You should hear from them yourself.

Teresa Allison

“I first heard of Helix Legal when I casually mentioned to a friend in the industry that I was interested in commercial property or construction law. Her immediate reaction was “you need to have coffee with Janelle Kerrisk.” One coffee and some LinkedIn messaging later and I was listening to a QBCC panel at Helix Legal’s Building Better Business event. I remember feeling equally out of depth as I was fascinated by the complex issues that arise from regulatory reform within the construction industry.

Over coffee Janelle had described Helix’s approach to practice as ‘problem solving to find the practical solution’ even if this led to a less legalised solution. This struck a chord with me. Every law student will know what I am taking about when I refer to the ‘why did you get into law’ question every friend of a friend or aunt will ask you.

I always thought my answer was quite unique as being a math geek in school I was always drawn to the problem-solving element of the law. However, law provided slightly more interesting content than math. I had never heard someone with a similar answer until Janelle spoke those words.

Combined with Helix’s innovative approach and snazzy event, I knew I wanted to be a Helix lawyer. Lucky for me, the next coffee date was a bit more formal but ended very well.

I have been told since starting at Helix that I was partly hired based on my ‘One Hot Minute’ answers from that Helix event. Feel free to watch them on YouTube, despite my protests I have been told they are there to stay. If you have watched the video, you will know that I love Batman, bourbon, brazilian jujitsu and guns and roses. You will also know I am a serial “um” mutterer when on the spot, and simply cannot decide who I would go to dinner with (Meryl Streep). It is no surprise that for Secret Santa I got a guns and roses t-shirt and a can of Jim Beam, both of which have come to great use.

I have a passion for good food and beverages from a history in hospitality and events, and love nothing more than a solid Sunday run. I have always considered myself to be a bit of mixed bag, but this seems to have been embraced since working at Helix. Not only am I being given the chance to build my skills as a Helix ‘baby lawyer’ but I have managed to end up in charge of our event series and have signed up for a team triathlon. Despite the craziness of 2020, the Helix team has continued to innovate, and I could not be prouder to be admitted as Helix Lawyer in 2021.

Looking back on that first conversation, I had tagged construction on the end to my random shuffle of words you spit out when someone asks you what you want to specialise in. It was an on-the-spot comment that ended up changing my life and career as I knew it, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Johanna Cardona

“I am grateful to be able to say that I’ve been a part of the Helix team for almost 2 years now. Working at Helix Legal I have not only learnt a lot about law and the construction industry, but I have also learnt a lot about myself and the person I aspire to be.

Every single person at Helix inspires me every day to get out of my comfort zone, make the most of any opportunity that comes my way and to learn new things. I feel like Helix is more than just an amazing place of work but also a family that looks out for each other and encourages each other to be the best they can be.

In my time working at Helix I have been able to attend enlightening panel discussions and legal conventions, such as ALTACON and the AustLaw Symposium, that I would not have been able to attend without Helix.

I have also been able to work on interesting projects that teach me about construction law and innovation in the legal industry in a completely unique and engaging way. For example, through helping build the Helix Online Adjudication Training modules, I have gained an invaluable and in-depth insight on specific topics that affect businesses in the construction industry, and how they can be prevented.

I can honestly go on and on about what makes working at Helix so great. From little things like blasting Crowded House and Matt Corby on the office speakers to rooftop lunches and happy hour in the lobby, it’s a place that makes me excited to come to work. But really, what I love most about working at Helix Legal, is being able to work with such authentic, genuine, and inspiring people every day.”


Watch Joh’s One Hot Minute below.

Emily Taylor

“My name is Emily and I am fifth year Law and Business at QUT. I first came across Helix a couple of years ago and thought the firm looked unique, innovative, and somewhere I would absolutely love to work in the future.  Last year I joined a TRL team (my first and only social  sport season) and made a friend, Margie, who as it turned out worked at Helix and spoke so highly of the firm. Although my TRL career didn’t take off and on most game days I would return home not having even touched the ball at all, I am so thankful that I said yes to the social sport invitation which would lead me to working at Helix today!

I love working at Helix Legal. The whole team have a great energy and are all very hardworking, which I find extremely motivating and really look up to. I am very keen to continue to learn more and more about construction law from the team and take on new tasks. I also enjoy the innovative and creative twist that Helix embraces with the law.

Aside from work and study, I spend a lot of time with my family and friends, I love going to the beach (especially Straddie), going to the gym and watching Netflix (docuseries are my favourite).

Helix really is #notanotherlawfirm, and I am really looking forward to becoming a Helix lawyer.”

I have just become aware that to date Emily has dodged doing a ‘one hot minute’. We will immediately address this matter and once it becomes available, I will promote it with extra fervour!

Final thoughts

The great Australian cricketer and cricket commentator, Richie Benaud, once said concerning commentating:

“The key thing was to learn the value of economy with words and to never insult the viewer by telling them what they can already see.”

I am sure every reader can see through their own words, the quality of these three young Helix people, and what they bring to the table in terms of our business. We are very fortunate that they choose us.

I will be doing further articles focusing on our other wonderful people.

Thank you to all our Helix team for thriving in a difficult chapter of our business. Thank you to all our clients who continue to choose us to help them navigate their way through these challenging times.

Not intended as legal advice. Read full disclaimer.
Michael Chesterman
Michael Chesterman June 8, 2020

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