Team overview Calder Stewart Legal Team

Team overview: Calder Stewart Group

We are delighted to chat with Calder Stewart Group's first legal function in its 65-year history. This team, with a proactive and collaborative approach, is removing barriers and perceptions about the law, fostering relationships, and championing innovation for streamlined efficiency. Their dedication has been recognised as they have been named as a finalist for the ILANZ 2023 Tompkins Wake Small In-house Team of the Year Award.

The Group’s in-house legal team (L-R): Brooke White (General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer) and Rennae Hopkins (Legal Counsel).

Can you give us an overview of the legal function at Calder Stewart Group and how it supports the work of the organisation?

Calder Stewart Group is a nationwide property and construction firm with over 450 employees specialising in design and build, industrial and commercial projects across the country.

As a small team of two, we provide national legal support across all areas of the business and are focused on building the capability of our people across a broad range of areas including enterprise risk management, contract negotiations, training and development and dispute resolution. We are also responsible for manging several key external relationships including the Group’s insurance and banking portfolios.

What does the team do to build and enhance the influence of the in-house legal function across the organisation?

As the first in-house legal function in the Group’s 65-year history, we have focused on removing barriers and perceptions about the law to ensure a proactive, visible, and collaborative approach. We have also committed to building a strong rapport with people across our organisation, from Board level to our front-line operational teams. We have achieved this by being visible, attending site, traveling to our different national regions, and actively engaging with our people. These relationships have enabled us to coach our people to assess matters through a whole of business lens with the goal of delivering exceptional outcomes for our people, our customers, and the communities that we live and work in.

How would you describe the culture of your team?Calder Stewart

We have built a culture within our team which prioritises showing up as our best selves and fosters mutual support. We show up every day with a genuine commitment to each other and the business. For us, it is about recognising that being in-house counsel can be challenging at times and so it is important that we can have open conversations where we can express our vulnerabilities without judgment and to know that we have each other’s back. 

We also embrace a curious mindset and welcome fresh ideas and change. We believe that innovation comes from being open-minded and willing to explore new opportunities. Lastly, it is important that with our demanding workloads that we find time to enjoy a coffee together and have a good de-brief and a laugh!

Are there any changes or new technologies the team is planning to roll out in the next 12 months?

Our team is excited about the upcoming changes and the potential of new technologies.

Over the next 12 months, we are primarily focusing on integrating our legal processes into our businesses existing technologies to streamline our workflows, enhance collaboration, and improve efficiency. As part of this, it is important that we are seen to be educating and encouraging our people about the benefits and value of technology adoption. For us, it is not just about creating new tools – but equally, it is about creating a culture where everyone understands the “why” behind the changes and how it can improve their work and overall business outcomes.