LSJ - October 2015

Professional development CAREER 101

Kayte Lewis Entertainment lawyer

What did you learn from your first job? My first real full-time job was as an apprentice electrician at Johnson & Johnson. I can’t fit what I learnt in this small box! The biggest impact on me, though, was the multicultural workplace. I grew up in a small Anglo-only town and I learnt a lot about people and their di erent perspectives. Biggest lesson in your first legal position? My first legal job in 2007 was for employment lawyer Lisa Aitken who was opening a firm. I called her and was their first employee. I learnt to ask if I didn’t understand something and not to trust the internet. Best advice you’ve received so far? “Start out as you intend to proceed”. I think this is great advice for business, law, friendships and life. You need to know what you want if you have any chance of achieving it. What was your career turning point? Moving to Sydney. There are opportunities here that just don’t exist elsewhere. Joining NSW Young Lawyers has helped me to network. It’s how I met Chris Chow and ended up doing my dream job as an entertainment lawyer. Most significant case? A pro bono family law/relocation case for a single mum with three kids involving domestic abuse. The case finished just before I had my fifth baby. I had to appear in Federal Court in Brisbane by phone after the case and when the court called I was having an ultrasound. Fortunately, the court wasn’t doing Facetime! How do you balance work and life? I work best in blocks, so I have blocks of time for working and blocks for family time. A key thing is to focus on the important things first, because the “urgent” rarely ever is. I spend a lot of time at the start of each week planning my time, prioritising, and writing lists. When you are 70, where will you be? I’ll be in Sydney, because it is home. I’ll be travelling to Europe a lot and be involved with a lot of grandchildren. I’d like to sit on boards and use my experience to support others, particularly women. I don’t imagine retiring.

When did you study law and what inspired you to do so? I grew up in the Hunter Valley, then spent 16 years in Noosa before moving to Sydney six years ago. I studied law as a mature-age student. I was running a business and, when my fourth child started pre-school, I decided to go back to study. I owned a performing arts business, was running drama schools, and had my own talent management agency. We supplied talent to Movie World and production companies in Brisbane. I did a lot of contract negotiation and I observed over the years, working with creative people (and being one), that they are di erent. I’d seen creatives with great ideas who had trouble with communication breaking down in their businesses. I decided to study commerce and law with the end goal to become an entertainment lawyer. Before becoming a lawyer, Kayte Lewis worked as a creative industry professional for more than 20 years, as a performer, director, producer, and talent agent. Lewis studied commerce and law, including intellectual property law, at the University of New England, and entertainment law, media and broadcasting, and communications law at UNSW. She has worked as an entertainment industry lawyer at Chris Chow Creative Lawyers since 2013. She mostly works with talent and production companies in the Australian entertainment industry and is actively involved in NSW Young Lawyers.


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