Would you move from an office in a high-rise in the centre of Canberra Civic, to an office in a red brick heritage house with a rose garden in downtown Queanbeyan, to further your legal career?
Lorraine White, partner at Baker Deane & Nutt Lawyers (BDN) did.
Lorraine is one of four partners at BDN.
According to Lorraine, her career has blossomed since joining BDN, New South Wales’s oldest law firm, founded in 1861.
But let’s go back to where it all began for Lorraine.
Lorraine grew up on a property outside Inverell in northern NSW.
She enrolled in science the University of Sydney because she ‘didn’t get into medicine’ and left to join the public service in Canberra in the early 80s.
In Canberra, Lorraine enrolled in economics at the Australian National University. When she discovered how ‘silly’ economics was she converted to a double Bachelor of Commerce/Law.
Lorraine did quite well as a public servant, rising to the Senior Executive Service in the Commonwealth at the relatively young age of 28.
She left the public service in 2002, completed her law degree and then started working as a lawyer at Chamberlains Lawyers in 2004, primarily doing commercial law.
“I learned that whatever you did as a lawyer, it has to be commercial. It has to be valued by the client, responsive and efficient,” Lorraine explained.
“Fortunately for me I wasn’t treated as a baby lawyer. They realized that I had previous life experience.”
After four years, Lorraine moved to Bradley Allen Lawyers and worked with John Bradley and Susan Proctor doing commercial law.
“I was mainly doing commercial transactions, leasing and employment law. I was really lucky to work with such excellent and skilled lawyers” Lorraine said.
After four years Lorraine was approached by Managing Partner, Bill Baker to move to BDN.
“I took up the offer because I wanted to broaden my legal skills, particularity in NSW, and do more litigation,” Lorraine explained. “As soon as I walked in the door of the Queanbeyan Office, I knew that I had found the place I wanted to work.”
One thing BDN favour is longevity: they have been around for 156 years.
“There are many new law firms popping up all the time, but people come to us because of our reputation and continuity. We have generations of clients that continue to come to us for legal assistance,” Lorraine stated.
“We provide the full range of legal services – we have many big ends-of-town commercial clients and also do family law and criminal law. We have a large and excellent conveyancing team which operates in both Canberra and Queanbeyan. In any one week, we have lawyers in the NSW Supreme Court, the ACT Supreme or Magistrate’s Court, the local NSW courts or the Federal Courts.”
“While all of our partners and solicitors can turn their hand to any legal matter, I tend to focus on commercial litigation, employment law, and estate disputes. My commercial legal skills are also often in demand. ”
BDN currently has 34 staff, including eight lawyers and offices in Canberra and Queanbeyan.
“We genuinely care about our clients and don’t just see them as a source of income. We find we are often much less costly than firms in Canberra– but we deliver the same, or higher, levels of service,” Lorraine said proudly.
Lorraine says each person in the team at BDN is valued.
“We work with our team to build their skills and confidence. This is why many of our team have been with us for such a long time … that and our chocolate biscuit cupboard,” Lorraine laughed.
In the end, Lorraine says that their clients know and trust the team.
“In NSW the Court Rules require lawyers to facilitate the just, quick and cheap resolution of the real issues” – and that is what we have been doing for over 156 years,” Lorraine concluded.
With her excellent work ethic and charming personality, Lorraine White is an inspiration to many budding lawyers, and is certainly bucking the trends in business.
Lorraine likes travelling overseas each year: usually to France. She has been studying French for the past few years, is interested in art, especially Australian artists and is a supporter of the ANU School of Arts. She has two ‘beautiful’ border collies, Wally and Ella.
BDN supports numerous local sporting groups, Queanbeyan Home, and everything from the Bungendore Rodeo to the Bungendore Preschool.