Five minutes with Catherine James

04 August 2015 Topics:

Catherine James, member of our commercial team, has worked with Cooper Grace Ward for just over 12 years. We asked her to tell us in her own words what life at Cooper Grace Ward is like, and a few of her past experiences and favourite things.


1. How long have you worked at Cooper Grace Ward, and what brought you to that position?

I started at Cooper Grace Ward as a junior administration assistant for Scott Hay-Bartlem and Greg Cahill nearly 12 years ago after a friend recommended the firm. I’ve now been a paralegal for about 9 years, where I mainly prepare superannuation and estate planning documents.


2. If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive who would they be and why?

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, a Buddhist author – such an inspirational and spiritual man. I think we’d all love to learn to be happier and how to solve our human problems, as he refers to them.

Odin, a best friend who passed at 21 – he was always the life of the party and knew how to talk to absolutely everyone about absolutely every topic you could think of.

Trent Reznor, vocalist of Nine Inch Nails – such a gifted musician who has been in the music business for nearly 30 years. He’s not too bad on the eyes either!


3. You’re from Brisbane – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?

Pretty much anywhere at Eagle Street Pier, so many options and a gorgeous view. Definitely recommend a few beers at the Bavarian Bier Café.


4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness” by a Buddhist nun who runs a meditation class I attend.


5. Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?

As most of my clients already know, I love my holidays in South East Asia. Earlier this year I spent five weeks travelling alone through Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. I love the people you meet when travelling through these countries – really puts things into perspective when the most positive people you’ve ever met are living in some of the poorest conditions you’ve seen. And a heads up, I’m off to Bali again in a couple weeks too..


6. Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t working at CGW, I would be…

Working with dogs. Everyone here knows I’m a crazy dog lady and my office is covered in photos of mine and my family’s dogs. Until a couple months ago I volunteered at RSPCA on Saturdays, and although it involved a lot of dirty work it also meant plenty of puppy cuddles.


7. What has been your biggest work challenge since you started at CGW?
The ‘simple super’ legislation changes of 2007. I was preparing approximately 30 superannuation trust deed updates six days a week, it was crazy. Whenever things get busy around here Scott Hay-Bartlem and I still joke that’s it’s not as bad as 2007.


8. What do you love about your job?

The people I work with!! Most of my closest friends are people I met at CGW, which is important when you spend the majority of your day at work. We’re also lucky that we have a pretty active social club, so there are always regular events to look forward to.


9. Something you might not know about me is that …
Growing up I always wanted to be a police officer. After school I studied a Diploma of Justice and then I got the job at CGW with the intention of staying until I was old enough (or had enough life experience as they call it) to apply.



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