Life @ Thomson Geer

Our culture

The law is an incredibly rewarding profession, but we recognise that it can also be demanding. For this reason, we aim to maintain an environment that is flexible, friendly, collegiate and professionally stimulating. 

We work hard to enhance this culture through transparent and authentic communication, and by ensuring we are respectful and accountable to each other every day.

Our partners are approachable and accessible to our staff. Every Thomson Geer partner has committed to a written set of principles which exemplify our open and supportive culture day-to-day.

Our clients are at the centre of everything we do; so it is not only the openness we demonstrate in our dealings with each other, but also the well-established and trusting relationships we have with our clients, which make Thomson Geer a great place to work.

Wellbeing, balance and fun

Our wellbeing@work program supports all our people to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle, encouraging staff to enjoy their time both at work and away from the office.

A snapshot of some of our benefits:

Life @ Thomson Geer Table

Community involvement and workplace giving

Thomson Geer is committed to pro bono and corporate social responsibility. We provide pro bono legal services across all our offices and have dedicated senior lawyers who take ownership of the program.

We currently nominate a target value of pro bono work of 10% of all billable income from relevant Commonwealth legal work.

Of particular note is the pro bono work we do in association with Cancer Council Australia. Thomson Geer provides a free service in assisting terminally-ill cancer patients with their legal needs.

We also support the fantastic work of the St Vincentian House in Sydney. St Vincentian House is an organisation which provides temporary accommodation for homeless people. Each week we visit the house to provide legal advice on a pro bono basis. We advise on various aspects of the law, ranging from tenancy to consumer law issues, criminal law and bankruptcy.

In recent years Thomson Geer has also participated in the FareShare program which provides free meals to the hungry and homeless using donated food from markets, caterers and retailers. Our staff volunteer in the FareShare kitchens sorting, chopping, cutting, mixing and baking food served to those in need.

Engaging in pro bono work is rewarding for both our communities and our lawyers. Those who engage in these activities are often exposed to experiences, clients, areas of law, and procedures that are not accessible in their everyday job. Their work in these programs can make a significant difference for clients with a genuine inability to pay, which represents a contribution to a worthwhile cause, while also enhancing the professional and personal development of the volunteer.

Thomson Geer also has a formal workplace giving program. This initiative enables individuals to make fortnightly donations through salary sacrifice to a variety of charities.

Meet our People

Jeffrey Chang

I joined Thomson Geer as a Senior Associate in 2011 and was impressed by the collegiate nature of the firm.  My colleagues have always provided the support I need to be the best I can be, both inside and outside the firm.

When I decided to take three months’ parental leave after the birth of my son, the firm was supportive and flexible.  This support and flexibility was demonstrated again two years later when I decided to change to part-time working, 4 days a week.  Working part-time hasn’t affected the outcomes I am able to achieve for Thomson Geer or our clients, and it enables me to be there for my kids when required.

Where the need arises, I have remote access from home to my work desktop, and I receive emails in real time on my phone, allowing me to liaise with my team and address any issues straight away.

From a professional perspective, the partners of Thomson Geer have always supported me in building a practice and have been willing to offer advice and the benefit of their experiences.  This enabled me to become a partner in July 2015 – the fact I was working part-time never came up as an issue in the promotion process.

As a partner, our structure as a single firm over multiple states means that I am supported by colleagues nationally and can draw on resources in other states seamlessly.  This is very important for many of my clients who require tax advice across different states.  Our structure and collegiate culture means that we can work together, focussed on achieving the best results for our clients, without the internal politics.

Shannon Schwarz

After you graduate from law school, one of the first realities you are faced with is that your academic knowledge is useless unless you pair it with the skills and experience of everyday legal practice.

I had slightly less than 12 months experience as a lawyer before I joined Thomson Geer’s Adelaide disputes team in January 2010, but I was immediately offered a secondment to the South Australian Crown Solicitors Office to assist with a large dispute involving a government entity.  This dispute took years to resolve and was formative for me in how large disputes are managed and worked on by a team.

This secondment ended in 2012, but shortly after I was offered another secondment to Brisbane, with the Thomson Geer construction team, assisting with a heavy workload of construction disputes.  Whilst in Brisbane I was given responsibility for various matters, including another large dispute with respect to the construction of a Queensland coal terminal which started in December 2012.

When this secondment officially ended in 2013, I returned to practice in Adelaide with specialist knowledge and skills in relation to the construction industry which was immediately applicable and of use to clients in South Australia.  I have also been working on matters in Victoria and Queensland for various periods to assist where necessary, including a site visit to an oil and gas plant in rural Queensland in 2014 and a 10 week trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court in 2016.

The only way you gain legal practice skills is through legal practice.  The firm has always supported me in developing my skillset which is of use to clients and a marketable tool for me and Thomson Geer.

Venkatesh Ananthakrishnan

My journey with the firm started in the Adelaide office of Thomson Geer in November 2012 when I was accepted into the summer clerkship program. From the outset, the firm did their best to accommodate the interest I expressed in the ‘front-end’ of the law: not only was I placed in the Corporate Mergers & Acquisitions team for my clerkship, but I was also given the opportunity to complete my graduate year in the wider corporate/commercial team (completing a rotation in Intellectual Property and a longer stint in the Corporate M&A team).  I was happy to be permanently placed in the Corporate M&A team as a Lawyer at the end of my graduate year.

It quickly became apparent that Thomson Geer is truly a national firm that encourages the flow of work between offices and encourages employees to grasp opportunities elsewhere within the firm.

Shortly after being placed in the Adelaide Corporate M&A team, I was given the opportunity to assist some Sydney-based Corporate partners with their matters. This enabled me to gain exposure to the Sydney transactions market and, in particular, to the Public M&A/Equity Capital Markets space (which, as an Adelaide-based lawyer, is an opportunity I may not otherwise have received so early in my career).

Through my involvement with the Sydney Corporate M&A team, an opportunity arose to work permanently with a Sydney-based partner who has a Public M&A/Equity Capital Markets practice. I loved the role description and was keen to accept the position, but I had reservations about relocating to Sydney and giving up the position I had in Adelaide. However, the firm supported me and assured me that the role would present new opportunities, both personally and professionally, and that the relocation would be a smooth process.

Suffice to say, the firm was right! The relocation was smoother than I could have expected and the homogenous culture across the firm meant that I seamlessly integrated into the Sydney team. Shortly after the move, I was encouraged to take on more responsibility and found myself advising on complex public company work and even managing my first ASX listing! Not only was all of this new and exciting (and challenging!), it forced me to grasp technical skills quickly, deal with clients directly and operate more effectively. This enabled me to develop expertise and consolidate experience in a nuanced area of corporate law at a faster rate than might otherwise have been possible. Fortunately, the firm also recognises and rewards hard work, professional development and is prepared to back their staff, and I was fortunate enough to be promoted to Senior Associate in 2016.

I believe that new and challenging experiences and career progression opportunities are instrumental in achieving a fulfilling career. Sometimes those opportunities require you to look beyond borders, so it is great to know that I am working in an environment that not only offers those opportunities, but encourages you to grab them with both hands.