Alex Wheeler is a Senior Associate at the global legal business, DWF. He primarily practises in property and development law, acting for local and national clients as they work to redevelop and revitalise the Newcastle CBD, Honeysuckle and greater Newcastle region.
Originally from Central Western New South Wales, Alex is a graduate of the University of Newcastle Law School – he moved to Newcastle to pursue his career in law and hasn’t looked back.
Away from law, Alex can be found taking full advantage of Carrington – whether it’s a Saturday morning coffee or a jog along the Newy Parkrun track.
- What career path led you to where you are now?
I’ve had a very traditional career path I think. I finished school and moved to Newcastle. I studied at the University of Newcastle and graduated and started with a small firm, moved on to Sparke Helmore for a number of years, and I recently joined the DWF.
- What motivates and drives you?
I think like most people, success is a motivator and driver, but I think it’s really important to know how you define what success is. I think for me there’s so many things that define what success is, and it’s not always money, it’s not always those type of material things; contribution is a really good example. Whether it’s a contribution which helps the community through organisations and charities, whether it is the contribution you make to your clients and the outcomes that they achieve, or whether it is the contribution you make to the firm and innovating the way you do things. I think it is success, but it’s defined a lot more broadly than that I think.
- What has been your biggest learning curve in your career?
It’s not necessarily one event; there’s been a series of instances or learning curves. At university you’re definitely taught black letter law, how to interpret it and how to think like the lawyer, but in the real world, it’s a very different state of affairs. Particularly in the commercial world; obviously this doesn’t apply to every area of law, but in the commercial world it certainly is very important that you think commercially for your clients.
When you are considering the legal issues and you’re giving clients advice, it’s not just about applying the black letter of the law, but considering the issues and considering the commercial context when you’re making the decisions. I think that’s really what they expect of you, not just to be black or white, but to give them an opinion in the entire commercial context of what they’re trying to achieve.
- Where would you like to be in 10 years?
Right here in Newcastle I think. You only need to look out of most office windows; there’s so much change happening here and the long-term opportunities for all professionals, especially younger professionals, are limitless. I think it’s a really exciting time to be in Newcastle and to be a young professional in Newcastle, so I don’t think I’ll be going too far anytime soon.
- Have you had any significant Hunter-based mentors during your career who inspire you?
I’ve been really lucky. Through my entire career I’ve had a number of mentors and I think that’s one of the great things about the legal profession, there’s a lot of people willing to mentor you.
At the moment I’m very lucky to have mentors in Mark Hickey and David Reid, who are partners at our firm. They offer great guidance and they’re always challenging me to go that one step further, to look at things differently and I guess to be a better lawyer and things like that.
With thanks to Hunter Young Professionals who Hunter Headline collaborated with to source this interviewee.
DWF is an award-winning legal business with a strong reputation for excellent client service and effective operational management and has been named by The Financial Times as one of Europe’s most innovative legal advisers. The DWF Group, led by Managing Partner and CEO Andrew Leaitherland, now has over 2,700 people and 26 key commercial centres in the UK and internationally, including Australia, Italy and the USA, in addition to two exclusive alliance offices in Riyadh and Jeddah.
The firm has core strengths in corporate and banking, insurance and litigation, and in-depth industry expertise in several chosen sectors including central and local government; energy and industrials; financial services; real estate; retail, food and hospitality; technology; and transport.