Alumni Profile - Neil Pathak
Q: What position(s) did you hold on the Review?
A: I joined as a publications manager in 1993 and, was elected one of the editors, together with Peter Danchin, in 1994.
Q: What did being a Member of the Review mean to you when you were at Melbourne Law School?
A: The Review was, and as it is today, a very prestigious publication. Being on the Review was a great honour. This of course came with significant responsibility that you had to ensure the Review maintained, and even enhanced, its high standards under your stewardship.
Q: What professional roles have you undertaken since leaving Melbourne Law School?
A: My intention on finishing university was to go into investment banking after a year of articles, which was required at that time to complete one’s qualification to practise law. So I joined Freehills specifically because they were strong in mergers & acquisitions which would provide good experience for investment banking. However, I enjoyed my early days there and some of the large and significant transactions I was working on and so decided to stay on in the law.
As a mid level associate I spent almost 4 years working in London, mainly for the New York law firm Shearman & Sterling as they grew their European business. It was a very exciting time working throughout Europe and at a time when London was experiencing strong financial and cultural times.
I eventually returned to Freehills and became a partner in 2004.
After a long period of courting, Danny Gilbert convinced me to join Gilbert + Tobin in 2011 to lead its relatively new Melbourne office which, at that time, had only 3 very junior partners and about 15 people. Today, the Melbourne office has about 100 people. I’m co-head of the firm’s M&A/corporate group and also a board member which is testament to the importance of our Melbourne business to the firm overall.
I have also been appointed by the Australian Government to the Takeovers Panel, the peer review body that regulates corporate transactions, and am a Senior Fellow at the Law School where I lecture in takeovers and securities law.
Q: What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment since entering the professional world?
A: Being a key part of the enormous growth in business and reputation at Gilbert + Tobin in the last 7 years. The firm has had some incredibly strong years in recent times. If you look at the M&A and capital markets league tables we are regularly in the top 2 or 3 firms by market share even though we are no more than half of the size of the other first tier firms in Australia.
We are financially successful, have the largest pro bono practice, have some interesting technology and innovation investments and have an ambitious and can-do culture. In Melbourne, from small beginnings we have a very strong business with an enviable client list.
Q: What are the most enjoyable and challenging parts of your current professional role?
A: Advising large ASX 100 companies, private equity firms and large multi-nationals on their most important M&A transactions and at the same time being involved in G+T’s leadership is a nice mix (albeit a very full load!).
Clients expect more than just legal advice from their outside counsel so the need to provide legal advice in a commercial, strategic and practical way to significant corporate clients can be both exciting and challenging.
Q: In what ways did you contribute to the Review’s culture when you were a Member?
A: It might seem difficult, in 2017, to look back at 1994, and say we played a role in significantly modernising the Review. However, I think my co-editor (Peter Danchin) and I together with the editorial board did achieve that, at least by 1994 standards. We upgraded technology use and systems (in 1994 terms and nowhere near to 2017 expectations!), updated the citation guide, sought to bring about a greater sense of team culture through Review team events and meetings and significantly upgraded the annual dinner from a staid university house meal to the black tie function it is today. I still have the receipt for the 45 strawberry daiquiris and other assorted cocktails at the after party which did cause our faculty advisers some concern at the time…understandably!
Q: Do you have a particularly fond memory from your time on the Review?
A: The after party receipt.
Q: If you could give advice to a current Review member, what would it be?
A: The technical pursuit of accurate footnoting and editing is a very important discipline. Being a part of the Review fine tunes the discipline you must already have to have got this far. But enjoy your time at the Review and the friendships and relationships you make at the Review and at university. Don’t lose sight of the fact that it is those relationships and the practical application of the skills you are learning that will be important in being successful in the future.