About Ashurst Alumni Alumni news

Catch up on the latest news about Ashurst and Blake Dawson alumni.

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Congratulations to Jaclyn Moriarty (Lawyer, Sydney until 2005), a prize-winning author of novels for young adults, who published her latest children's book The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars in November 2018. Described as a "spellbinding tale of unlikely friendship, unexpected magic and competitive athletics", you can read more about her book on her publisher's website.

Q. The Whispering Wars were mentioned in your previous book, The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone. What inspires your ideas?

Usually, I get my inspiration by staring at the ocean, falling asleep, listening to music (or to other people’s conversations in cafes), running up and down stairs, and eating chocolate. When I wrote The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone I didn’t mean it to be part of a series. It was supposed to be just one book. But my publisher was working on the manuscript at home one day and her young son happened to walk by and read over her shoulder. He noticed the words, "Whispering Wars" in the manuscript. "That sounds cool," he said. "I’d read a book about whispering wars." So, if I’m honest, I think I wrote about the Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars because I liked the idea of my publisher’s young son thinking I was cool. 

Q. How did you progress from being a lawyer to a writer?

I’d wanted to be a writer all my life, and I wrote my first novel, Feeling Sorry for Celia, while I was doing a PhD in law at Cambridge. I tried to get it published in England, with no luck. When I started work at Blake Dawson Waldron (as the firm was then), I brought the manuscript along on my first day and put it in the corner of the office. I thought I would work on editing it when I got a moment. After a year, it was still on the floor and I decided to send it to a Sydney literary agency just as it was. The agency took it on and found me publishers all over the world. I kept working as a lawyer for a few years after that, but the partner I worked for, Robert Todd, was very generous about letting me take unpaid leave so I could write, and then I switched to part-time work so I could write on the other days, and eventually I took a year’s unpaid leave which became two and then three years – and then I woke up one day and realised I was a full-time author. So the firm made it possible for me to become a writer and I will always be grateful for that. (I actually really enjoyed being a media lawyer while I was there too, but writing makes me almost deliriously happy a lot of the time.)

Q. Do you already have an idea for your next book?

I’ve just started writing another book set in the same world as Bronte and The Whispering Wars. It’s about the cousins Bronte visits in a boarding school during her Extremely Inconvenient Adventures, and particularly about the middle sister, Esther. At the moment, it’s called The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst but my titles always change over and over before they get finalised. I’m also writing a novel for grownups about a time travel agency.

Q. Please add anything else that you would like to share – for example, what are your recent highlights, achievements or travels?

I have a novel for grown-ups coming out in March this year. It’s called Gravity is the Thing, and it’s about a woman whose brother went missing when she was a teenager. She has just signed up for a series of seminars that promise to teach her the secret to human flight. I’ve just sold the French translation rights to Gravity is the Thing and I’m very happy about that because I haven’t been published in France before, and because it gives me an excuse to go to Paris to celebrate. Or anyway, to go out to a French restaurant for dinner.


Congratulations to Toby (Senior Associate, Singapore until 2011) and Josephine who welcomed baby Isabelle in December 2018. 

It has been a busy few years for Toby. Look out for his interview in the next edition of Firm Friends, where he tells us about his move from advising on M&A in Asia, to running a fast-growing consumer electronics company in Utah.


We are delighted to welcome back partner Chris Georgiou who re-joined the firm in October. 

Chris was a partner within Ashurst's Securities and Derivatives Group in London when he left in April 2016, after 14 years with the firm. On leaving, he set up two businesses, legal consultancy, Apollo Legal, and retro-themed events business, Spyn, before moving on to his position as CEO of Condor Alternative Legal Solutions at Fieldfisher.

Chris re-joins fellow 'boomerang' alum, Mike Polson, as co-head of Ashurst's "NewLaw" legal operations division, Ashurst Advance.

Chris said, "It's great to be back! I'm delighted to have returned to Ashurst as co-head of Ashurst Advance with Mike. It is an incredibly exciting time for us all in Ashurst Advance as we are operating in what has become the most dynamic and fastest moving sector of the legal services market."


Congratulations to Karl Blake (Senior Associate, Melbourne until 2007) who has been appointed as a new judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and commenced his new position on 30 January 2019. Karl began his career as a lawyer at Blake Dawson in 1998, working in our Employment team. Karl then became a partner at Maddocks until 2015 and was recently a partner at MinterEllison.


Congratulations to Sasha (Perth office from 2007 to 2011 and Singapore associate from 2011 to 2013). who joined FedEx in Singapore in November as Senior Legal Counsel.


Congratulations to Richard who was recognised in the Australia Day Honours. Richard was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the community, to charitable groups, to the Catholic Church in Australia, and to the finance sector. He was also appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2012.

Richard commenced his career with the firm in Sydney when it was Dawson Waldron. He then moved to BNP Paribas and when he left he was Deputy Manager for Australia. Richard has been Chairman of the St Vincent's Curran Foundation since 2010, as well as being a current board member of Aid to the Church in Need, chair of the advisory board for CatholicCare Sydney and director and governor of the University of Notre Dame Australia among many other roles.


Port Moresby Managing Partner, and alumni partner sponsor, Richard Flynn, was delighted to welcome former Blake Dawson Corporate lawyer Julie Bukikun along to speak at their recent alumni reunion event.

Julie is now Assistant Resident Representative at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Papua New Guinea. She gave a wonderful speech about her career journey, from law student, carrying out library work in Blakes, to her role at UNDP supporting developing sectors in Papua New Guinea as part of the UN's sustainable development agenda 2030.

Julie reflects, "It's been a very interesting journey for me. During my time at the firm I really valued the mentoring provided to me, particularly by Richard Flynn and Tim Glenn. They taught me the value of good analytical skills and even though I am no longer practising as a lawyer, I still use the skills that I picked up in the early stages of my career. Every day I need to analyse something and provide good advice to different levels of people either in government, development partners, communities or frontline service providers, with the goal being to support the UN in making the world look a little better than it is now. Fortunately, the journey is still going! And I'm very glad that there is an alumni programme so that we can come and share our experiences and continue these relationships."


We bid a fond farewell to one of our best-known partners, Mark Vickers, who will retire from the firm in April.

Mark has been a banking partner at Ashurst since 1999, and is a leading UK practitioner on leveraged finance transactions, having acted for a number of high profile banking clients. He has been recognised as a "leading individual" in each of Legal 500 and Chambers every year since they were first published in 1988 and 1990.

He joined the firm in 1999 from legacy Dibb Lupton Alsop (now DLA Piper) where he had worked for almost 20 years. He has served on the firm's global board twice including on the first board of the merged firm.

Mark is a keen tank driver and helicopter pilot and will remain as chairman of London's Air Ambulance service. He will also continue to have involvement with the Territorial Army, with the Westminster Dragoons.

Chairman Ben Tidswell said: "Mark has made so many contributions to the firm, but the thing I would pick out is the support he has given so many people – lawyers, business services and of course our clients – during his time as a partner. He is a tremendous leader and a consummate team player and we'll miss him greatly."

Our alumni news page keeps you up to date with the achievements and successes of our global alumni community. NIKKI SPENCE, ALUMNI MANAGER


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