An agent for change: Kate Brown de Vejar (Brown, 1995)

‘To be trusted with a strategic management role at the global level is a great responsibility and it’s also a great opportunity to be an agent for change.’

Kate Brown de Vejar (Brown, 1995) is Partner and Global Co-Chair of International Arbitration at DLA Piper and Vice President at ANZMEX Business Council and believes that those who find themselves in a position to influence, do have a responsibility to go further.

When Kate graduated from Brisbane Girls Grammar School, she studied an Arts/Law Degree at The University of Queensland (UQ), majoring in French before moving to France to work for a year as a nanny and absorb herself in the culture. From there, she undertook a three-month internship at an arbitration firm in Paris.

‘Once I found out what arbitration was, I knew I wanted to go down that pathway. I ended up, almost by accident, discovering this area of law,’ Kate said.

‘I started working for a well-known arbitrator in Paris, and that was a real springboard for me to get a privileged view into a lot of matters. I had always really loved giving oral presentations, public speaking, debating and I really enjoyed that oral advocacy side of things. I loved it from day one.’

Kate said her appointment at DLA Piper, where she has worked since 2019, has been an ‘extraordinary opportunity and challenge’.

‘To be trusted with that strategic management role at the global level is a great responsibility and it’s also a great opportunity to be an agent for change,’ she said.

As a mother of two children, Kate is also proud to be a role model for young women who may not see enough women and mothers in global leadership roles in the business or legal profession.

‘If I can be a little bit of an example as to how that can be done, becoming a leader, so that people have something to look at and relate to—I think that is very important,’ she said.

Kate’s work as an international arbitration lawyer has taken her from Brisbane, via Paris, to Sydney, New York and now Mexico, where she is based with her husband and two children.

Studying mooting at UQ was the beginning of her journey which would lead her to Mexico. She travelled to Vienna for a competition where she met her now husband, Rodolfo, who was competing on behalf of a Mexican university.

‘We have these two little Aussie/Mexican kids who will gladly eat lime and chili but still won’t eat vegemite no matter how I try,’ Kate said.

As a global leader in arbitration, for almost 10 years Kate had a significant responsibility representing Australia, and in particular the Attorney General’s Department, at meetings of the UN Commission on International Trade Law, focused on dispute resolution.

‘The UN meetings are typically held twice each year—one in New York and one in Vienna—and obviously it’s challenging for representatives from Canberra to make those trips twice a year. In addition to having the government’s interests represented, they were certainly looking to have a private practitioner with international experience, who could contribute to the thinking that went into the instruction that was given to the Australian delegation. That was a very significant high point,’ she said.

Kate’s current passion in her position at DLA Piper is being a leader among a diverse team.

‘This role means being charged with creating and promoting a global team which is vibrant and diverse, from all corners of the globe, and make it a cohesive team as well as representing those backgrounds, languages, and cultures where members of our team feel empowered to pursue their objectives. To have that opportunity is pretty amazing.’

Kate believes a leader should appreciate that the things that make people different should be celebrated, and encouraged and that there is recognised value in different perspectives.

‘I definitely include this challenge, the current role I’m in, among the things in my career that I’m really inspired about.’