Stephen Stephens, head of real estate, Lawrence Graham
What was your first ever job?
After secondary school I tried to get a job at a pineapple-canning factory in Brisbane, but wasn’t chosen so I ended up painting fences and doing odd jobs.
What was your worst experience as a trainee?
Running the half mile from the firm’s offices to the Supreme Court Registry to issue a writ. It took 10 minutes to get there in a dark blue heavy wool pinstripe suit with humidity at 110 per cent and temperature at 37 degrees centigrade.
Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?
The smoker’s corner out the back of the building.
What time do you usually leave the office?
6.30pm, and if I need to do more work I’ll log on from home after we get the children to bed, or very early in the morning, 5.30 or so.
What do you do at weekends?
Mostly children-focused things like cycle riding and birthday parties.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
Mirabelle or Orrery.
If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you have been?
I guess I would have been in business, as I did a combined business/law degree at university.
Who was your mentor or role model?
In the UK, it would probably have to be Brian Sobell and John Stapley, two of my former partners.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I get a kick out of signing up a good deal for a client.
What’s the toughest thing about your job?
The HR aspects: discipline, getting everyone to do their bit and achieving fairness for everyone.
What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Not clearly setting out in writing what sort of risks a client was taking in a hurried transaction. He sued me for £500,000, but after four years paid £30k to get our consent for him to withdraw the action. I learnt that no matter how much of a hurry there is, the firm should be protected from opportunist clients.
What car(s) do you drive?
Mercedes estate and Ford Zetec.
What book are you currently reading?
When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro.
What’s on your CD player at the moment?
Rumours by Fleetwood Mac; a Stevie Wonder compilation; a U2 compilation; an Eagles compilation; Avril Lavigne’s Under My Skin; and Busted.
What’s your favourite children’s book?
The Harry Potter series.