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The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the world's largest organization serving the professional and business interests of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations, associations, nonprofits and other private-sector organizations around the globe.

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Member in the Spotlight - Laura Hartmann

Member in the Spotlight allows us to get up-close and personal with some of our ACC Australia members. This week we are shining the spotlight on Laura Hartmann, General Counsel, Grampians Health, and an active member of the Legal Technology and Innovation Special Interest Group.

Tell us about your current role.

I am the inaugural General Counsel at Grampians Health. We are a new public health service, amalgamating four public health services over Western Victoria. Geographically, we cover an area larger than Denmark! My work involves providing legal advice across a broad range of practice areas - from consent and health law decisions and privacy, through to contracts and property law. I’m also creating our legal service from the ground up. I’m doing that using a human-centred approach informed by legal service design methodologies. Its been a terrific opportunity to combine my passion for legal design and in-house practice. Our organisation prizes innovation, and I’ve had a lot of support in my goal of delivering legal services differently. I’ve been able to work through some exciting innovative projects, in addition to my legal BAU. I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity!

What do you believe is the most important skill an in-house lawyer needs?

Plain language communication, and a willingness to learn from others. Nobody wants long, wordy legal advice from their in-house lawyer. 

What led you to pursue an in-house legal role?

I started my career in private practice, and the part of my role I always enjoyed best was the chance to sit down and talk with clients. I also wanted the opportunity to contribute to our community and work in a values-led environment. Working in-house, in public health, allows me to work closely with a wide variety of people and to navigate a large and challenging breadth of work. I was in awe of our amazing health workforce during COVID, and I have so much respect for the people who turn up every day to deliver care to others in what are still very difficult circumstances. Its important to me to be able to support them in their work, by making interactions with legal as seamless (and painless!) as possible. 

What advice would you offer to in-house counsel in building relationships within their organisations?

I have a legal design background so my advice is always to not charge in as a subject matter expert. Lawyers are generally trained to be quite hierarchical, and we tend to pounce with our top-down legal advice! Take a moment to step back, actively listen to your stakeholder and genuinely try to understand their needs. Ask, “why?”, and ask it several times. This can reveal invaluable information about systems and processes and the way your legal service works. Then use that information to create responsive legal advice and human-centred services.  

What is the one thing a law degree doesn’t teach you about being an in-house lawyer?

How to provide plain language, accessible legal advice, and how to actively listen and engage with your stakeholders. In an in-house role, the relationships you build with your stakeholders are critical, and the way that we communicate legal advice is key to that.

What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed across the legal sector since you joined the profession?

Over the last 10 years I think our sector has started to embrace innovative thinking. Our profession has really started to examine itself and ask, can we do law better and how? It’s not just about AI- its legal design, legal technology, legal operations and beyond. It feels like we’re waking up to the disconnect between our legal system and the people whom it was supposed to benefit. It’s a really exciting time to be in our profession. ​​​​​​​

Finish this sentence… If I wasn’t a lawyer I’d be… 

a playschool presenter. I have an acting background and have always dreamt of being on an episode of playschool!  

I like being a part of the ACC Australia community because…


of the opportunities to meet and learn from like-minded practitioners. The LTIC has been a great source of inspiration. I always walk away from our meetings feeling energised and motivated to try new things.