Eliza Knapp, Lawyer, discusses her secondment with ITNewcom and the benefits gained from working with a Commonwealth government department.
In 2017, MinterEllison expanded its service offerings to clients in its acquisition of boutique tech consulting firm ITNewcom. This acquisition led to ITNewcom becoming a part of MinterEllison’s technology practice and what is considered a legal 'first'.
As a member of MinterEllison’s technology team, I was given the opportunity to work on one of ITNewcom’s deals as a senior consultant. This deal was between a Commonwealth government department, which we were acting for, and a major telecommunications provider.
What was my involvement?
During my secondment no two days were the same. One day I would be attending a meeting with the deal’s project team to discuss the telecommunications provider’s proposal, the next day attending a meeting with senior executives of the department to provide them with progress updates on the deal, or I could be drafting evaluation reports and gap lists in preparation for negotiations between the department and the telecommunications provider. The diversity in my role and tasks have kept it interesting, challenging and rewarding.
Ultimately, the skills I have developed as a lawyer allowed me to quickly take on the role of project managing the deal. This meant I was involved in ensuring that both the department and the telecommunications provider met their deadlines, drafting minutes which set out the key deliverables for both parties, drafting progress status reports to keep our stakeholders engaged, and providing commercial advice to the project team.
What was the difference between working for MinterEllison and ITNewcom?
I was involved in the deal from the beginning. Often lawyers only become involved in a deal when a client requires legal sign-off. However, as the IT and negotiation consultants on the deal. ITNewcom was engaged to assist the department to prepare the Request for Proposal (RFP), review the telecommunication provider’s response to the RFP, and prepare for and run the negotiations. This meant that I understood not only the legal considerations of the client, but also their business and commercial considerations. This was extremely helpful in ensuring that I was of value to the client.
I worked on site. It is not often that a lawyer is based at their client’s office. However, as part of my secondment I moved interstate so that I could be based at the department. Working with the client every day meant that I really got to know the client’s needs as I was involved in both their formal and informal discussions. I also became familiar with the team’s working style, which was critical in ensuring that I was able to work efficiently and effectively with the client.
I was given incredible autonomy. At times during my secondment I was the only ITNewcom representative on site. This meant I attended meetings on my own, in which my opinion was sought and valued on a range of commercial issues. I also attended briefings with senior executives, in which I assisted in providing updates to the executive on the progress of the deal.
Developing my skills. Through working with ITNewcom I strengthened my skills and abilities in working with people effectively, adapting to people’s different styles of working, managing deadlines, multitasking and being able to work under the pressure.
Would I recommend a secondment with ITNewcom?
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I would definitely recommend a secondment with ITNewcom The experience has significantly broadened my skills, I've obtained invaluable experience in project managing, managing people and drafting commercial documents, and ultimately developed my commercial and business acumen.