When entering into the profession, it’s important to remain open-minded when choosing an area of law to specialise in, said one senior associate.
From assisting with multi-million-dollar refinances to chasing down missing Maserati cars to repay clients’ debts, Clayton Utz senior associate Jordana Komesaroff’s work in the restructuring and insolvency (R&I) space is full of variety.
In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, Ms Komesaroff revealed why she’s stayed at Clayton Utz since starting her first graduate position and had some valuable advice for younger lawyers.
Since starting at Clayton Utz in 2016, Ms Komesaroff, who is based in the firm’s Melbourne office, has moved from a graduate role to a senior associate position – and said that “the people you work with can play a significant role in determining your happiness at work”.
“I think the firm attracts and retains brilliant individuals because it focuses not only on delivering exceptional service to its clients (which it absolutely does), but also on important values such as diversity, inclusion and social responsibility,” she said.
“Clayton Utz offers exceptional training, resources and mentoring opportunities, both formal and informal. This support has helped me to develop as a lawyer and create a meaningful career. As an example, Clayton Utz supported me in undertaking postgraduate studies last year, which provided me with an opportunity to develop my knowledge and understanding of R&I law.”
Whilst Ms Komesaroff didn’t originally know much about R&I law, the variety of the work – and the people in the Melbourne R&I team – piqued her interest in the space and led her to specialise in this area of law. In fact, Ms Komesaroff was recently awarded the highest achievement nationally in the Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association’s (ARITA) advanced insolvency subject, which she said helped to further develop her knowledge and understanding of R&I.
“I quickly came to enjoy the fast-paced nature and diversity of the work and knew it would be a great place to begin my legal career. Our team works on a range of matters, including restructurings, insolvencies, workouts and distressed debt transactions,” she added.
“We have a diverse range of clients, including corporate groups, banks, alternative lenders and insolvency practitioners, and advise clients in various industries, including construction, steel, property development, aged care and retail. The work is varied and interesting and has made for a very fulfilling career to date.”
Gaining the postgraduate qualification from ARITA has been particularly useful, Ms Komesaroff said, in navigating some of the challenges in the R&A law space.
“The insolvency industry is tightly regulated and this area of law is constantly under review. For example, since I started practising law, safe harbour and ipso facto reforms were introduced, in an attempt to give companies a greater opportunity at rehabilitation. In addition, new laws were introduced for small business administrations and liquidations, and various laws were introduced by the government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“R&I law can therefore be a complicated space to navigate. We require an intimate knowledge and understanding of the latest reforms and we are always looking out for emerging issues. While the complexity and evolving nature of R&I law can make the work challenging, it is also exciting to be in an industry that is continually adapting to meet the needs of the shifting business landscape,” she explained.
“The insolvency industry is tight-knit, which affords opportunities to make meaningful relationships with peers and clients in the industry from a junior level. As a team, we regularly catch up with other professionals in the industry, including at events run by the ARITA and the Turnaround Management Association (TMA). Connecting with other R&I professionals also provides an opportunity to better understand the commercial context within which we work.”
And for those entering the legal industry unsure of what area of law they are interested in, Ms Komesaroff said that her best advice would be to be open-minded.
“It is important for young lawyers to be themselves. Bring your true self to work – from my experience, if you do, you will be happier, and so will everyone around you,” she said.
“I would also advise young lawyers to be open-minded – you never know where life will take you. At university, I studied law and biomedical science – I had never turned my mind to working in the insolvency industry. I was (and continue to be) very grateful that the door to R&I law was opened.”
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