Sally Davies is a Commercial Lawyer at Jenkins Legal Services and has over ten years’ experience working in a range of specialised areas, including wills and estates; general commercial and property related transactions; and employment law. She is a born and bred Novocastrian, graduating from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) degree.
Sally is passionate about helping others and finds immense satisfaction when she is able to use her skills to assist people when they have a problem. This passion to help also led her to be involved in NSW Young Lawyers for over six years, being Vice-Chair and then Chair of the BushWeb Regional Issues Committee, and an Executive Councillor for four years.
Away from the law, Sally is a playwright, having had 16 short plays performed in over 20 festivals around the world.
- What career path led you to where you are now?
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a lawyer. I’m not entirely sure where that began. I blame my passion for mystery novels growing up. I used to love reading Nancy Drew and her father was a lawyer, so I don’t know if I thought that I’d be able to solve mysteries. Apparently not, but it hasn’t been a total disappointment.
I always knew I wanted to stay in Newcastle. After I finished studying at the University of Newcastle, I managed to get a job in a local firm at Warner’s Bay as a Wills and Estates Lawyer. I worked there for a couple of years, learning about the craft. I then went to a couple of other firms around the area over the ensuing few years, and then ended up at Jenkins Legal Services doing a lot of commercial law and general law. I’ve been able to draw on the skills that I’ve developed over the past 10 years. It’s just been great because they’re a new firm. I’ve been with them almost since the beginning, and it’s been good to be part of the development and growth of that along the way.
- What motivates and drives you?
It’s quite simple, actually. It’s literally a desire to help people. Law is an industry in which your training can genuinely help people in need. There’s something really satisfying about people coming to you in that time of need and being able to use my skills and to provide that service and help them through quite a difficult time.
- What has been your biggest learning curve in your career?
I’d have to say juggling my two main passions in life; which is law and writing. I’ve always loved to write for as long as I can remember, but it was always more of a hobby than anything else. Then, about seven years ago now, I fell into the theatre scene in Newcastle. I wrote a couple of short plays and just fell in love with it. There was something quite magical about seeing my words come to life on the stage and getting the opportunity to entertain people. From that point on, it’s just fuelled more of the passion in that field.
Of course, trying to juggle a creative side with the practicalities of working full-time as a lawyer can be somewhat difficult. When you’ve spent the day working, you get home and sometimes it’s quite an emotionally and intellectually draining job. Being creative is the last thing that you want to be doing. But I need to fight through that and force myself to write, which sounds terrible because I do actually enjoy the process. It can be a case of forcing yourself to find the time and the energy to do that because I find that it feeds the soul more than anything else does. I have to do it in order to keep that part satisfied.
I suppose the biggest learning curve is just adjusting my own attitudes and approaches to it in order to feed that part and make sure that I’m happy in both sides of my passions.
- Where would you like to be in 10 years?
I suppose, whatever I choose to do, I just want to be healthy because, without that, there’s not a lot of point in what you’re doing anyway.
As far as looking that far ahead, I’m not that much of a planner in having strong goals and visions for what that 10-year period will entail. I gauge that from looking back to even 10 years ago and what my expectations were there. I think if I had planned for where I’d be today, would that necessarily be where I’d have ended up?
I’m extremely happy with where I’m at and what’s happened. I like to assess on a more short-term basis as to what my passion and interests are at that time, the opportunities I’ve been handed, and where I can see myself going from that point onwards. It’s a bit of a general answer. I suppose to look further afield, I’d like to think I’d still be in Newcastle, still juggling pretty much what I’m doing now as a lawyer in private practice, and hopefully with a lot more plays under my belt.
- Have you had any significant Hunter-based mentors during your career that inspire you?
I really would give special mention to my current boss, Micah Jenkins. I’ve worked with him for the last two-and-a-half years and he’s been a wonderful support and guide over that period. He’s excellent at recognising people’s skills and strengths and working with those. He encourages development and learning both professionally and personally with his staff, which is terrific. He’s also managed to build his own practice, a very new practice. It is built on the ethos that you can be both professional and compassionate, which has always been my approach with practicing as a solicitor. It fits very well for me.
With thanks to Hunter Young Professionals who Hunter Headline collaborated with to source this interviewee.