With a wealth of experience across multiple jurisdictions, Annette O’Callaghan offers a fresh perspective and leads with inclusivity, openness and collaboration.
As Parliamentary Counsel, no two days are the same. During a sitting week, O’Callaghan’s attention is on Parliament, but when it’s not in session, she can be found drafting legislation in her office.
In the early stages of her career, O’Callaghan found the solitude of drafting particularly isolating, and she’s now working to change this culture.
“People attracted to this work are generally introverts and not necessarily people who like to spend a lot of time with other people,” she says.
“But we’re trying to change that culture in the office and have a lot more engagement with the profession.
“Whether it’s the government lawyers who are instructing us or even just members of the community, we’re much more open to talking to people about what we do.”
And O’Callaghan leads by example. In the short time she’s been in the role, she’s given a speech at the Law Society of NSW’s Government Solicitor’s Conference, spoken on several panels, opened the NSW Parliamentary Counsel Office to graduate schemes, hired a PLT student, encouraged secondments, and done multiple interviews.
She says communication and problem solving are two key skills required for drafting.
“Communication is so important in the process,” she says.
“Drafting is a real collaboration at the end of the day … A lot of people think our work is sort of ivory tower and that it’s quite an academic thing. But in fact, it should be a really practical job. A big part of the job is problem solving.”