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Issue 19 - November 2014

Under the spotlight: Evelyn Halls


Evelyn Halls always knew she wanted to be a lawyer. From a young age she decided that a career which involved analysis and problem solving was the right path for her.

Evelyn joined FOS as an Ombudsman in May 2013 after working for 17 years as a solicitor, senior associate and partner at Herbert Smith Freehills. Her all-consuming role was in corporate law, working on a wide range of significant transactions in areas such as mergers and acquisitions, equity capital markets and insolvency.

“I joined FOS for a number for reasons,” Evelyn said. “I was looking for a different way to use my legal knowledge and experience, as well as a role which would enable me to make a broader contribution, while still offering challenges and variety.

“I was also looking to achieve a better balance between my work and my home life, so that I could spend more time with my eight-year old daughter.  At times, my previous role was literally 24/7 – on international transactions, 3am conference calls are not unheard of!”

Evelyn’s work at FOS draws on the skills she developed in private practice, particularly the ability to quickly identify the key issues in dispute and identify practical solutions.

“I find the work very interesting,” she says. “As an Ombudsman you have to tackle the challenge of balancing the competing interests of the parties, while also being conscious of the need to ensure consistency in decision making.”

“We’re making decisions about people’s lives and I’m very aware of that. Every dispute has a personal story behind it and no two cases are the same. I’m the sort of person who really wants to understand exactly what happened. Sometimes that’s not possible but I always try to find out.”

Evelyn regularly seeks out case managers and other FOS staff to discuss issues which arise in the course of making Determinations.

“One of the things I enjoy most about working at FOS is the wide range of experience our staff have, particularly those who have worked in the industry for a number of years. It can be really helpful to draw upon that broad knowledge base to provide another perspective.”  

Outside of work, Evelyn is an Olympic fencer. She represented Australia at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics and has won six Commonwealth gold medals in her preferred weapon of epee. Evelyn still competes internationally as a member of the Australian team, and is currently preparing for a World Cup competition in China followed by the Australian National Championships in Canberra in December.