James is a disputes and investigations partner, providing legal and strategic advice in relation to risk and compliance advisory, regulatory investigations and the defence of class actions.
My pathway into law has been different to many. I spent the first 10 years of my working life as a professional orchestral trombone player and had the privilege of performing with some of the leading orchestras in the Chicago region (including the Chicago Symphony) and in Sydney (including the Sydney Symphony and Australian Opera and Ballet).
It was a terrific journey, but I do reflect on how such a vastly different experience has shaped me as a lawyer later in life. Ultimately, some of the most elemental skills required to perform at that level have been the most valuable: pride in craftsmanship; attention to how every detail supports the big picture; making that big picture compelling; being faithful to the text but injecting it with a spark of creativity. These are the things that I aspire to as a musician and as a lawyer.
There are also important lessons in resilience and determination from learning to thrive in high-expectation, high-pressure, live performance environments. They have really helped me pick up the pieces and get back onto the front foot if ever little things go awry.
The trombones just sit on a wall these days, but they certainly weren't 10 wasted years!
I made the decision to re-train and change careers because I needed new challenges. The Disputes and Investigations team at Allens has given me fantastic opportunities to learn and grow. I particularly enjoy getting to know the intricacies of how so many of our clients operate, suddenly becoming a minor expert in how to clean a gas pipeline, how a wrap investment platform works, the interpersonal dynamics of a particular executive team at a key point in time. Every matter throws up new insights and also casts new perspectives on them as they are put under the glare of commercial disputes, regulatory investigations and Court proceedings.