Lloyd Wood, Paralegal
Gilbert + Tobin is a top-tier commercial law firm, working across a variety of sectors and involving a number of different areas of the law. As a relatively young and extremely innovative firm, it is seen as a disrupter in the industry to the more established larger firms, many of which have merged with international identities, whilst G+T has remained independent.
I commenced at G+T as a Summer Clerk, rotating through the Corporate Advisory and Banking + Infrastructure (B+I) groups during the summer and later spending six months in each group as a Paralegal whilst studying. Currently, I am back as a Paralegal in the B+I team but also spending part of my week in the Competition + Regulation group to widen my experience before starting as a Graduate next year. With such varied legal work required across these groups, my experiences have naturally also been quite varied. Generally my role involves assisting the senior lawyers with whatever tasks are required to help complete the deal or help the client. This can include interesting and challenging research tasks into niche areas of law, attending client meetings and sitting in at court hearings, but it can also include managing the less exciting parts of the matter, such as running searches on registers, assisting with formatting, printing and collating required documents, and delivering such documents to the clients or the court
I was born and have grown up for the entirety of my life in Sydney. I commenced the double degree of a Bachelor of Business (majoring in Finance) and Bachelor of Laws at the University of Technology Sydney in 2011, and look forward to graduating soon with First Class Honours, which will occur together with completing the requirements for Practical Legal Training through my course. Throughout my tertiary education I’ve been fortunate enough to involve myself in many extra-curricular pursuits, which have defined my time at university. This has included legal competitions, mentoring programs, social justice initiatives and significant positions in multiple university societies, committees and boards. These activities strongly assisted both my career and personal development and helped build a picture of what a prospective employer could define as ‘my background’ once the interview sessions came around. Each individual’s background will be different and could range from extensive volunteer experience, excelling in exchange or overseas programs, or a lengthy experience in paid legal employment. There is no correct formula as the firm is looking for something different in each candidate but it is important to think about what sets you apart from all the other students in your cohort who are studying your exact degree, when there are a limited amount of positions on offer.
Yes and no, it depends how different the background is. Yes – because lawyers at Gilbert + Tobin come from all walks of life and have had a variety of experiences before joining the firm, whether that is directly through the summer clerkship program, from another law firm or regulatory body, or from another country. Diversity is celebrated and is considerably important to allow for a range of conceptual opinions on something that can be looked at in many different ways. No – because unlike other broader corporate roles available, working at a law firm specifically requires admission as a lawyer.
The thing I like most about my job is that, despite having a relatively junior role, I’ve felt that I have still been involved in everything that the work has to offer. On one end of the spectrum, this involves the adrenalin of a deadline as the due diligence project runs past midnight, but it also involves attending celebratory long lunches with the client at the close of a matter. Working as a lawyer is equal parts rewarding and challenging, and that can still be experienced, whilst to a much lesser extent, from the throes of a junior position.
Undoubtedly, working as a lawyer will be academically challenging at whatever firm you choose to work at, as you will be required to deal with complex legal dilemmas for its respective clients. In the commercial world this can be compounded with other factors as well, particularly due to the competitiveness of the industry and time sensitivity of most deals, which may mean you will be given greater workloads and tighter deadlines. This may mean significant time commitments and it is not uncommon for lawyers at all levels to work late into the night and also on the weekend. It is important to be wary of this, and the potential strain it can put on other elements of your personal life, such as your physical and mental health.