Alumni - After Allens

Matt Thomas

Senior Legal Counsel

This interview was conducted in 2019.

During Matt’s time at Allens, he developed a practice as an expert adviser on construction and infrastructure project procurement, delivery and disputes. He's now working in the heart of the industry as a Senior Legal Counsel at Lendlease, one of Australia's leading construction, infrastructure and development companies.

Matt ThomasMatt's career story….

I joined Allens in the Brisbane office as a Graduate in 2009 after participating in the firm’s clerkship and paralegal program. I was ecstatic to receive an offer for a graduate position at the conclusion of my clerkship and even more pleased when the firm agreed to defer my start date so I could backpack around Europe for six months.

During the graduate program I completed rotations in the banking and finance, and litigation practice groups and settled in the construction disputes team. It was a busy time for the team, and I was fortunate to advise on a diverse range of disputes across Australia, the Asia Pacific and Europe. Eventually, I decided to focus primarily on front-end work and transitioned to the projects team as a Senior Associate, where I advised government and private sector participants on public private partnerships and other major projects across the property, transport, health, education, defence and energy and resources sectors, as well as several infrastructure asset privatisations.

In mid-2018 I accepted an opportunity to join the Lendlease building business as in-house counsel. Although moving from private practice into an in-house role (as well as moving from Brisbane to Sydney with my wife and infant son) has had its challenges, the support I’ve received from the Allens network and within Lendlease markedly softened the transition.

A typical day at work involves…

No two days are the same. The Lendlease legal team has a broad remit to provide cradle-to-grave support to the business in connection with the conversion and delivery of projects. On any given day I may be doing anything from attending a site to carry out a 'health check' with a project team, to preparing submissions to government on regulatory issues, considering structuring options, risk assessment and bid strategies for upcoming opportunities, settling internal policies, procedures, templates and guidance materials, attending negotiations and presenting training or advising on claims and disputes management strategy.

The thing that gets me out of bed each morning is…

My son Henry wakes me any time between 4am and 7am and my mornings before work typically involve daycare drop-offs or a run or gym session.

What excites me the most about working at Lendlease is the opportunity to work directly with industry leaders across a range of disciplines to solve the myriad of complex issues that arise across the business. At a more general level, it is awesome to be involved in the delivery of some of Australia’s most high-profile construction and infrastructure projects.

The best advice I have been given is…

Be yourself.

My time at Allens gave me…

The opportunity to learn from incredible lawyers, experience a diverse range of work and develop great relationships.

A highlight of my time at Allens, outside of day to day matters, was working with the LGBTI Legal Service to create the political impetus for change that led to the Queensland government passing legislation to expunge historical convictions for consensual homosexual activities in the State.

I'm passionate about…

Spending time with family and friends and embracing life in Sydney. I also really enjoy hiking and long distance running (when I can find the time). A couple of years ago I trekked the Annapurna Circuit in the Himalayas. I'm completing a two-week trek to Everest Base Camp this year and I plan to run the New York Marathon next year.

From my time at Allens, the people I remember most are…

It’s a long list! John Gallimore and Alan Millhouse taught me the 'Allens way' in my early years. John Baartz and John Cooper taught me the art of handling complex disputes. In my later years at the firm, it was a privilege to work closely with Nicholas Ng and the projects partners across the country – all great role models who were extraordinarily generous with their time.