Ebony Jade Dignan serves as general counsel at NIOA, a global munitions company with operations that include NIOA Australia, NIOA New Zealand, the Australian Missile Corporation, and Barrett Firearms in the US. Before overseeing the legal function at the company, she worked as a volunteer lawyer at Caxton Legal Centre and in various roles supporting legal, contracts, commercial, and governance functions.
She shares her admiration for Atticus Finch, the way the legal function can support business objectives as a department of problem-solving, and more.
Who was your first fictional legal inspiration and why?
Atticus Finch due to his passion and unwavering commitment to uphold his moral values, his bravery, and his steadfast dedication in fighting to obtain justice and bravery. He inspired my young legal mind and set an example for me as to how impactful a lawyer’s work could be.
What is one of the biggest misconceptions about being an attorney or the legal function itself?
That we are the department of “no.” The legal function can provide immense value to a business and advise on important risks and legal issues however, what the business ultimately decides to do with that advice is at their discretion. The legal function can be a department of problem-solving, creative thinking, and innovation as it works through risks and legal issues and presents alternative opportunities to the business to support key objectives.
What’s a piece of unconventional advice you’ve received that was helpful?
You don’t have to know everything, you just need to know who to go to, to get the information or advice you need.
What is the most meaningful case or pro bono experience you’ve worked on?
My work in volunteering at the local community legal center. It allowed me to support, assist, and provide legal advice to everyday people from all socioeconomic groups floundering with legal issues.