Farewell Peter Jenkin

 

After almost 30 years at Hall & Wilcox, Peter retired from the firm on Friday 19 November 2021.

According to almost everyone that worked with him, Peter is one of the Hall & Wilcox greats.

Peter joined Hall & Wilcox in Melbourne in 1992, as a senior lawyer in the commercial team, handling property and general commercial matters. Prior to this Peter had been a partner with McKean and Park. In those years Peter worked with people like Peter Hildebrand, Keith James, Andrew O’Bryan, Frank Cetrola and Richard Wilcox. Peter handled some big transactions and projects in what were formative years for the Hall & Wilcox commercial practice.

In July 2000, Peter became a Hall & Wilcox partner.

Katie McKenzie, Natalie Bannister, Peter Jenkin, Mark Dunphy, John O'Kane and Tony Macvean
Katie McKenzie, Natalie Bannister, Peter Jenkin, Mark Dunphy, John O'Kane and Tony Macvean
Peter Jenkin and Morgan  Featherstone
Peter Jenkin and Morgan Featherstone

Peter’s practice became increasingly focused on real estate work. Peter was the initial leader of the firm’s standalone property team, and laid the foundation for the now significant and successful national Property & Projects practice.

In recent years, Peter transitioned to a Special Counsel role, to enable him to focus on the aspects of his work that he enjoyed the most.

We asked some of Peter’s colleagues, past and present, to reflect on working with the great man.

Peter was my supervising partner during my grad year. My first rotation during my grad year was in the Property team. This was a time long ago. It is fair to say that Peter has been a constant in my HW life. The early starts, the VB, the quick smoko break, the loading of the briefcase. Like a metronome in any typical week at Hall & Wilcox.

I don’t work with Peter as much as I did in my early days – but when I do, I love it. Mainly because I know that Peter will always take the time to help, will always have the solution and will always be right. Plus the fact that whenever I would go to chat to him about work we would inevitably end up spending 30 minutes talking about footy, cricket, horses or Peter’s hate for tennis.

After all these years I have one memory of Peter that will probably never leave me. After one particularly stressful day as a very serious first year lawyer, I was leaving the office for the day and waiting for a lift on Level 31 of Bourke Place. Peter is leaving at the same time, so we are both there, waiting for the lift together. Peter could probably tell that I was a little flat and asked how my day was or something like that. I tell him it was pretty ordinary and Peter reassuringly says to me ‘Don’t worry mate, you’ve only got 30 years left to go’.

Peter’s retirement reminded me of back in 2015 (not long after I started) when Martin Ross and his team in corporate were closing a pretty significant media rights deal for a client. This involved a long stretch of all-nighters by the team.

I came in to the office early one morning and Peter had just come back from helping them out. I asked Peter how he'd been helping the team - I had thought drafting and proof reading etc, (recognising that Pete's long list of skill and experience didn't extend to media rights). He said no and that he'd just been making them toast and tea so that had some sustenance to get them over the line and just generally checking in on the team of lawyers.

Peter is a bit of legend and we will miss him.

Peter has been a great friend and colleague for many years. In our early years together we found common ground with ciggies, beer and irreverence. The last one stayed in place until the end of his time at Hall & Wilcox, the first two thankfully not so much.

I have always admired the time and patience Pete has shown toward young lawyers. He really took his obligation to train then in the law and ways of practice seriously. Many current and former colleagues have been greatly influenced by him. I think that is an outstanding legacy to leave after retirement.

I enjoyed being in partnership with Pete. The firm owes him a great debt for his contribution to the building of the property practice and willingness to bring others in to expand it.

I will really miss our breakfasts in the office together. They always led to great banter and his observations always made me laugh.

The six years I spent learning from, and working alongside, Peter were the most challenging, fulfilling and rewarding years of my nearly 20 years in practice. In many respects, Peter and I are not that similar, but we shared an enjoyment of, and pride in, being property lawyers. 

Property law is not often seen as one of the ‘glamour’ practice areas, but Peter was a maestro. It was a great privilege to be part of his team. We worked hard but we loved it. Peter’s door was always open and he always made himself available to those seeking his assistance or guidance. 

To this day, some of the lessons learned with Peter (‘shall is dead!’) still echo in my head when I am reviewing documents – I don’t think they will ever leave me. Drafting is an art form. Not all lawyers are good at it, but I am proud to say, I learned from one of the best, and so did many of the lawyers and graduates that were fortunate enough to pass through Hall & Wilcox during Peter’s reign. 

Peter is one of the greatest teachers I have worked with. I and many others have learned a lot by sitting with Peter and working through the drafting of a difficult clause or concept. He has always been prepared to take the time to patiently help others with their development – whatever other demands might be pressing. No problem is too tricky for Pete. Pete also teaches good habits – which for me and many others last a lifetime.

Peter has built many great client relationships. His counsel has always been highly valued by our clients. They appreciate Peter and his no BS approach. They trust Pete to deal with the noise and get the deal done.

Perhaps most of all, Peter embodies what it means to be a Hall & Wilcox person. While he may not specifically refer to the Hallmarks, Peter lives them in every way. Peter has been a great partner and leader – forever a steadying influence. He has always put the firm first, including through personal ups and downs. He is genuine, respectful and a real team player. He is patient, and calm under pressure. He is high quality. He is bloody funny and terrific company.

Peter used to give out, only on the rarest of occasions, his special hand drawn elephant stamps! I remember clearly the first (and I think only) time I got one of these elephant stamps – pure elation! Anyone that has worked with Peter would know that receiving an elephant stamp was like winning a gold medal at the Olympics.

Peter, through his kind and nurturing teacher-like manner, had this amazing ability to make boring old property law something amazingly logical, interesting and fulfilling. I've only been a lawyer for eight years, but haven't come across a better teacher or someone I trust more in the profession. I don't think I will either!

Peter was an early bird – I tried for years to beat him into the office in the mornings and never succeeded.

Peter was genuinely like a father to many of us in the team. He was someone we could all go to when things were getting too much and he would worry about you like his own child if ever you travelled overseas.

Peter is the best!

While I appreciate Peter Jenkin the fabulous Hall & Wilcox person, I really respect Peter Jenkin the great property lawyer.

Peter has represented many clients over the years, and has worked hard to ensure those clients received favourable outcomes. This has included Hall & Wilcox, where Peter has acted for and advised the firm in many lease negotiations over the years. Like many businesses, we have Peter to thank for helping us implement our workspace strategy.

Peter has taught me a thing or two about property leases, and I thank him for it. I feel honoured to have learnt from one of the greats!