Profile: 10 questions in 10 minutes with Senior Solicitor Ian Ratcliff

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Profile: 10 questions in 10 minutes with Senior Solicitor Ian Ratcliff


What do you do at SRL and in what circumstances would I come to you for something?

I’m a Senior Solicitor. My key areas of practice are environmental, planning and local government law. Most often, that means you would come for advice about anything or everything relating to development approvals (including if approval is needed at all), or the activities of local councils.  I’ve also branched out into reviewing commercial and construction contracts in recent years.

What’s your go-to productivity trick?

Classic FM and a cup of tea! I find that classical music in the background helps me drown out the distractions and focus my mind on the task at hand.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

I used to be a night owl, but children seem to have changed that. These days I’m often in my office by 5.30 am. Having said that, it’s not unknown for me to be working on submissions past Midnight, once the rest of the household has quietened down.

What was your first job? 

My first paid employment was as a research assistant to a University lecturer, preparing a draft chapter for Halsbury’s Laws of Australia. It was a job that showcased my legal research skills and my capacity to synthesise and summarise legal information. 

What energizes you at work?

I gain a lot of positive energy from sitting down with clients, figuring out together what they need to achieve and mapping out the legal means to get there. It gives a focus and a drive for all the documents, negotiations and (where necessary) Court work that follows.

What’s one thing that surprised you about working at SRL?

I have worked remotely from Lismore since 2017 and I’ve been surprised and impressed by the commitment Chris has shown to facilitating a flexible work environment, long before the COVID-necessitated remote working ‘revolution’.

What’s your biggest work pet peeve?

Technology undermining me! Remote working increases the need for a fully operative computer. Just as COVID 19 hit and the Court hearings moved online, my computer’s camera stopped working. It took a couple of IT professionals to work out the problem. There are days when I wish I had pursued IT qualifications as well as law!

What energizes you outside of work?

I love swimming – especially ocean swimming, even during the Winter. There is little better than an early morning swim to energise me for the rest of the day.

What’s a trip that changed you, and why?

In 2012, I travelled to Darfur in Sudan to carry out a consultancy for an aid agency. I  responded postively to challenging physical and cross-cultural conditions – including working in extreme heat; being locked in a compound over the weekends for fear of kidnapping; and developing and running training courses through an interpreter at the drop of a hat. That trip gave me a lot of self-confidence and I’d love to repeat the experience!

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?

It’s hard to gauge the ‘best’ compliment. However, one that has stuck in my mind over the years is when the now Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court called my advocacy as a student at a mock trial “compelling”

What book are you reading now?

Maalika – My life among the Afar nomads of Africa by Valerie Browning; A Lot with A Little by Tim Costello; and Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development by Bryant L Myers. I’ve always had at least 3 books on the go at any one time.

Ian Ratcliff Senior Solicitor has a wealth of experience in public law and appears and specialises in Administrive, Planning, Environmental, Real Property and Local Government Law. Please get in touch today for assistance in any of these areas.