Summary of WA ACC In-House Counsel Day 2021

Summary of WA ACC In-House Counsel Day 2021

The Dovetail team; Sonia Cason, Andrew Murdoch, and Charlie Smirl; were pleased to attend and sponsor the WA ACC In-House Counsel Day in Perth on Wednesday 9th June 2021.

Here is a summary of some of the sessions held during the day.


Building a Team while Juggling Family Life

Michelle Cowan, West Coast Eagles AFLW coach gave a rousing talk on combining her two passions of being a mother and AFL coach. Michelle’s amazingly heartfelt stories and achievements have made the path much clearer for the next generation of women in football and more widely across sport, proving that when it comes to footy, gender is no longer a barrier to kicking goals.

Michelle talked about her strategy for creating high performing teams and the importance of:

  • Building relationships
  • Getting to know people; and
  • Making genuine connection.

Understanding the difference between the mechanics, such as KPI’s and Strategic plans, v’s the Dynamics. Knowing, understanding, and living your values. Bringing them to life in the day to day, so everyone is held to account on those values.
In this environment there is no such thing as difficult conversations, there is simply clearly identified goals with the constant giving and receiving of feedback.

The key takeaway, as human beings, we as individuals, can positively influence how people feel. It is whether we choose to or not. We each can elevate and celebrate each other. Instead of fighting for one seat at the table, let us get a bigger table and bring more people along.


From Diversity in Value statements to Diversity in Practice

Irene Kuo of FMG with Sophie Coffin the Chief Justice’s new associate and Schellie-Jayne Price of Chevron gave us an insightful discussion into engaging with First Nation issues and creating opportunities for indigenous people.

Sophie emphasised the importance of taking a genuine interest in diversity in your discussions, and not simply employing tokenism. To be genuinely curious and to ask how people would like to be included, for example how do people liked to be referred to, and what terms their family use?

They each shared stories of what inclusion and diversity meant to them and sparked some lively table discussions around diversity and inclusion in our workplaces.

SJ spoke about the summer intern program at Chevron and how they use this to improve the legal team diversity and learning, and to create opportunities to enhance it.

As a key takeaway we discussed a variety of next steps which each individual/organisation could take to discover new aspects of diversity, inclusion, and equity. From websites and books, to mentoring programs and initiatives to podcasts and film. Feel free to get in touch if you would like this document full of wonderful resources.


Why Climate Change is more than just a “Hot” Topic in Western Australia

Sarah Barker and Mike Hales, with assistance from Molly, of Minter Ellison provided an update on climate change and litigation matters.

Sarah shared her expertise in the climate change space related to exposures under corporate and securities laws highlighting the economic transition in the following areas:

  1. International regulatory environment is shifting faster than Australia.
    1. Net zero by 2050. Rapid increase in the last year from 10 to 110+ countries committed to this target in 2020. This is 70% of the world’s economy, including EU, UK, US, Japan & China. With many committed interim reduction targets by 2025/2030.
    2. Adjacent policies – carbon border tariffs
    3. Adjacent policies. Capital markets increasingly pricing in risk. EU green finance tax. Green labelled debt. Accounting standards. Bidens executive orders.
  2. Australian Regulatory Environment
    1. ASIC Guidance – effective disclosure
  3. Technology
    1. Invent and innovate. By 2022 the UK will reach price parity between electric cars and fuel driven cars
  4. Investor Expectations
    1. Equity investors expectations on transition ambition.
    2. Regulatory and equity investors expectations on financial reporting.
      1. Accounting Guidance
      2. Investor push on Paris aligned initiatives
      3. AGMS- Say on climate transition
      4. Investor push on green metrics

Paris-aligned targets requires a significant economic transformation.
No new coal or Oil & gas approvals
Expectations continue to increase from investors and regulators around the world.

Mike shared recent climate change litigation.
US leading the world in this space, with Australia in second place. Litigation is based on the following areas:

  1. Human rights
  2. Planning
  3. Class Actions
  4. Private Law
  5. Company Law and Risk

Key takeaway: What should in-house legal be thinking about?

  1. This is a material financial risk (and opportunity).
  2. Past experience is not representative of future risk.
  3. Ensure a legal lens is being applied to strategy, disclosure, and execution (duties, reporting season, procurement, and projects)

Disrupting In-House with human centred design and innovation

Premila Jina of JourneyOnefacilitated a lively table activity full of post-it notes, sharpies and lollies which brought our 5-year-old drawing skills to the fore and got our creative brains firing to look at complex legal issues through a different lens.

Actively guiding us through the stages of Design Thinking using real problems facing our in-house teams today:

  • Empathize
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Prototype
  • Test
  • Assess

Ethics and Trust

Karl O’Callaghan, former WA Police Commissioner, provided an insightful and personal view on ethics and trust from his experiences within the police force, as a parent and as a foster father.

Karl encouraged the audience to look at ethics and trust through a simpler and more practical lens. Empower the people in your organisation to choose to do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do rather than attempting to direct everything by policy or procedure.

“Trust is what happens in an organisation when values, ethics and behaviour all matchup”.

Focus on providing clear, open, and consistent demonstrations of your ethics. This is especially important when dealing with bad news – don’t shy away from it or try to hide it, instead see it as a good opportunity to reinforce your ethics and live your values by responding with the right behaviour.

Karl shared numerous personal experiences with great candour and openness that even drew on Lord of the Rings as a meaningful example of ethics on display. Whether you want to paraphrase it as – “the pub test”, “front page of the newspaper test”, “would I tell my mum test” – it’s essentially “do the right thing”, because it is the right thing to do.


Winning Champagne

Congratulations also to Andrea Hawkes for winning the bottle of Veuve from our Dovetail business card draw!


Thank you

Thanks to all attendees that made the day such a success and to the ACC Team and committee for putting on such an informative and well organised event.

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