Professional development

Dr Julianne Jaques on her journey to the tax profession’s hall of fame


Dr Julianne Jacques accepts the Tax Adviser of the Year Award, 2020

Dr Julianne Jaques, CTA has a long and impressive list of achievements to her name. Currently a Senior Counsel at the Victorian Bar, Julianne also serves on the Tax Practitioners Board and the Board of Taxation. She is a Charted Accountant, a Chartered Tax Adviser and The Tax Institute’s CTA of the Year in 2020. And that’s by no means an exhaustive list of Julianne’s achievements.

The Tax Institute’s Senior Advocate, Robyn Jacobson, CTA recently caught up with Julianne to discuss her career and all things tax on Episode 3 of the TaxVibe podcast. Here’s a sneak peak at what she had to say about getting started on her high-flying career path.

Robyn: I'm really interested in your career path and the decisions you made earlier on, many years ago, when you were deciding where you would take your career. And in particular, the fact that you've been able to blend both an accounting and a law background. So can you take us back, did you have that pivotal moment where you felt, “I want to be a tax barrister”?

Julianne: I didn't have a pivotal moment when I decided I wanted to be a tax specialist. I didn't wake up at the age of six and think “this is it, I'm going to be a specialist in tax. That's going to be my career.” I really fell into it, I think like a lot of people do. I was about to commence economics law at Monash University. I saw that by studying accounting subjects, I could do the precondition subjects to becoming a Chartered Accountant or a CPA, and I thought that sounded worthwhile, not that I knew much about it. So I started studying those subjects within my economics degree, and in second year I decided look, rather than working part-time at Myer Chadstone, it might be a good idea to see if I could get a part-time job in a local accounting firm.

So I sent off a whole series of letters saying, “I'm keen”. And I was very fortunate that Coopers and Lybrand at the time was just about to open an office in Mount Waverley, very close to Monash University. They gave me a job. It worked very well, 20 hours a week, four hours a day, every afternoon.

After spending the morning in lectures, I would go and work at Coopers and Lybrand in Mount Waverley. Because I was studying law, they put me in their tax area and I've never really looked back and never left it since then. I stayed with Coopers and Lybrand for a couple of years after I finished university, qualified as a Chartered Accountant, did the PY year and then went and worked for, as they were called at the time, Freehill Hollindale and Page, now Herbert Smith Freehills.

I was there for about five years, was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme court. So I got my legal qualification.

And then one Friday looking through the Financial Review at the jail ads – as people did whether or not they were looking for a new job – I saw an advertisement for a Senior Tax Advisor to the Assistant Treasurer. And a friend of mine sent me an email saying, "Have you seen this? You'd be very suited to this role." So I put my hat in the ring on that one and was fortunate enough to get that position and spent two years working for the Federal Assistant Treasurer at a very exciting time from 1999 to the end of 2001.

Can you think of mentors in your career, people who have guided you or people who you now reflect on who were perhaps significant in the development of your early career?

It's interesting. I think there's a difference between mentors and sponsors, and I've had both. And sometimes one person can perhaps be a little bit across both fields, but I think the roles are different.

I've certainly had sponsors along the way who have helped me. I haven't had one large sponsor who's told me everything to do and where to go, but when I talk about sponsors, I talk about people who have helped me with these pivotal steps. The partner who employed me at Coopers and Lybrand, in perhaps an unusual way. Employing a second-year economics law student to work 20 hours a week was out of the box. It wasn't part of their normal program.

I think of the partner who recruited me across to Freehills when perhaps the movement in tax between accounting firms and law firms was not quite as large as it is now. That required also once again, going outside the box, recruiting somebody as a more senior advisor within the revenue group of Freehills, but who wasn't actually admitted yet and still had to officially be an article clerk.

I think of course Rod Kim, who took me on in that marvelous role. The partner at Freehills who recruited me also was the one who said, “you should join The Tax Institute”, and I did. So that was terrific. Then those who have supported me since I came to the bar, leaders who have put my name forward to junior them and those more recently who have supported me and put my name forward for board positions. And most recently in my application for Senior Council, those who supported me in the consultation on that.

Do you think there's also a role as we become more established in our careers and we've had mentors and people that have assisted us throughout our careers, to then pass that down to the next generation? Do you think there's almost a moral obligation to look out for and assist those that you see coming through the ranks who show enormous potential?

Absolutely, but I'd put it even more broadly. I'd say we have an obligation to the profession as a whole, and that includes those coming on, to maintain the standing of the profession. So that's a question of ensuring or assisting those coming on, but also those currently existing to understand the significance of their own integrity, the significance of their own reputation and the significance of all of this to the profession as a whole. It's very important that we are trusted. That we are trusted not only by our clients, but also we're trusted by the authorities to not do the dodgy thing, because if the authorities trust us, then that will only help our clients.

This is an abridged version of the conversation between Julianne and Robyn. Listen to the full podcast to hear more about Julianne’s roles at the TPB and the Board of Taxation, her journey through the CTA program and her all-star panel at The Tax Summit: Project Reform.


About Dr Julianne Jaques, CTA, Victorian Bar

Dr Julianne Jaques is a barrister specialising in taxation law, having worked in the field for over 25 years, including the past 15 years at the Victorian Bar and 10 years in private practice with Freehills (now Herbert Smith Freehills) and PricewaterhouseCoopers. She also served as Senior Tax Adviser to the Federal Assistant Treasurer, is a chartered accountant and chartered tax adviser and holds a doctorate in law from the University of Melbourne. Julianne’s doctoral thesis was on the corporate cash flow tax. Julianne also serves on the Tax Practitioners Board, and the Board of Taxation.