Updating Results

DLA Piper Australia

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Caleb O’Brien

Every day I know that I am having a meaningful impact on people’s lives. For example, one of the many projects I am working on will be used to reform laws that have rendered 1.9 million people stateless!

What's your job about?

I work for DLA Piper which is an international law firm with more than 90 offices across 40 countries. As a graduate, I have completed two 6-month rotations in Real Estate and Insurance Litigation. At the time of writing, I am completing my third and final rotation as a secondee to the Pro Bono team as the National Pro Bono Lawyer for Australia.

Lawyers are privileged to have a unique skillset that allows them to have a significant impact on people’s lives. As such, my role is to find and connect DLA Piper lawyers with individuals and organisations in need of legal support. By providing this assistance, we can support and amplify the voices of rightsholders.

Another key component of my role is overseeing and working on pro bono projects. As a global law firm, we have a number of cross-jurisdictional projects that focus on (i) Forcibly displaced people, (ii) Gender based violence, (iii) Rule of law, and (iv) Climate justice. Through our global reach, we are best-placed to monitor these issues and work with UN agencies to generate innovative solutions. Over the course of my secondment, I have predominately been working to support First Nations People in addition to stateless people in APAC.

I am particularly passionate about statelessness because it is often overlooked - despite there being over 15 million stateless people worldwide! Without the right to claim nationality anywhere, stateless people lose all their other human rights; as such, it has been called ‘the right to have rights’.

What's your background?

I was born and raised in Sydney and went to school in Randwick. My mum is originally from Melbourne and Dad from Kilkenny, Ireland. Growing up, I told everyone that I wanted to be Australia’s youngest Prime Minister. To that end, I studied law and environmental humanities at UNSW where I actually discovered my passion was for the legal profession, not politics.

Over the course of my degree, I volunteered at an assortment of NGOs, community legal centres, and grass roots organisations that gave me valuable legal training. During this time, I supported myself by working at Hoyts cinemas. There, I got to meet plenty of cool celebrities – including Christ Hemsworth! I was also fortunate enough to get the opportunity to study abroad at the University of Copenhagen. Before my exchange, I used the opportunity to live in Europe to work at UN-MICT.

I applied for DLA Piper because of the international opportunities it provides and the long-standing partnership it had with UNICEF. In 2018/19, I joined the firm as a summer clerk and thoroughly enjoyed the culture of the firm and the people working there. Subsequently, I joined as a Graduate from February 2020 and haven’t looked back since.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Absolutely! DLA Piper encourages well-rounded applicants from diverse backgrounds across the world.  In fact, many people with lived experience would be better placed to work on pro bono projects than I am. Irrespective of your background, the key thing is to be passionate about the law and what you do.

What’s the coolest thing about your job?

Every day I know that I am having a meaningful impact on people’s lives. For example, one of the many projects I am working on will be used to reform laws that have rendered 1.9 million people stateless!

What are the limitations of your job?

The scale of DLA Piper makes the number of opportunities endless. Unfortunately, I’ve learnt that you can't do it all at the same time. Clerks and grads should come into the program with open minds but think carefully about what they are truly passionate about and want to pursue. Although it can be a difficult decision, it’s better to focus on one thing at a time and do it well before moving on to the next endeavour.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student…

  1. Have fun and make as many friends as possible
  2. Make sure you pay attention in equity – it comes up much more frequently than you’d think
  3. There’s more to life than just university and the law, make sure you have other interests and hobbies too. Maybe learn less card-tricks and more embroidery!