Luke O’Callaghan

LLB (Hons) 2008

Luke O’Callaghan is a Lawyer in Blake Dawson’s Perth office. He completed his LLB (Hons) at the University of Sydney Law School in 2008.

During his first few months working in Perth, Luke O’Callaghan would occasionally hear talk of industry colleagues who had ‘gone to Rio’. ‘It was said almost as often as “so and so’s gone to Bali”, and with my Eastern States mentality, I got images of holidays and Peter Allen,’ he recalls.

Of course, as he quickly discovered, Rio refers to just one thing in Perth’s business community: mining giant Rio Tinto.

Now more acclimatised to Perth culture, Luke is a young and dynamic member of Blake Dawson’s energy law team there. ‘For an energy lawyer, it’s like being somewhere where everyone speaks the language,’ he says. ‘Perth is to energy and resources what Sydney and Melbourne are to financial services.’

Back when he enrolled at Sydney Law School, he held other plans for his legal career. ‘I think, like a lot of people starting Law School, I had visions of myself be-wigged and “shutting the gate” in cross-examination,’ he laughs. ‘If I’m honest I think I had some serious delusions of grandeur. But I don’t come from a family with any prior connection to the profession, so on entering Law School, my knowledge of the profession was pretty heavily based on films.’

During his degree, Luke landed a summer clerkship at Middletons, which later became a graduate placement. As he did his rotations, he considered specialising in litigation, workplace relations or energy and resources. With the GFC unfolding at the time, corporate insolvency also held strong appeal. But ultimately it was energy - particularly downstream gas and electricity - that captured his interest.

His early work saw him documenting wind farm projects and gaining an understanding of the national electricity market. ‘I came to realise many of those involved in developing wind farms and solar projects are clever people who are really committed to sustainable energy,’ he says. ‘They also run businesses like anyone else, which can be hard in the context of an industry that is so dependent on government intervention.’

In his role at Blake Dawson, he is primarily focused on drafting and advising on electricity and gas supply and transportation contracts, advising participants in WA’s wholesale electricity market, and retail gas and electricity work.

A recent passion has been co-founding the Young Energy Professionals (YEP) group in Perth, a special interest group of the Australian Institute of Energy, which grew out of discussions among friends and colleagues about the need for an association to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and represent their interests in the booming energy hub of Perth. YEP now has over 350 members in Perth and has attracted the support of the WA Minister for Energy; Luke is its current chair.