Updating Results

Hall & Wilcox

4.5
  • 500 - 1,000 employees

Jessica Wright

Not only am I able to listen in and contribute, but it makes it less daunting to ask questions of your own as you realise that everyone, regardless of their seniority, is constantly learning and evolving. 

What’s your job about?

My role as a junior lawyer is to assist the senior lawyers in my team with all types of work including advices to clients, reviewing subpoenaed material, preparing assessment applications and replies, administrative reviews and appearing in court. 

What are you doing?

I am a lawyer in Hall & Wilcox’s Statutory Insurance (CTP) team.

What’s your background?

I grew up on the Central Coast of New South Wales and attended public schools for both primary and secondary education. 

Following the HSC, I opted for a gap year to gain some practical experience in law. I didn’t want to pursue law without having some exposure to it first, although of course everyone’s path is different and it’s never too late to diverge. I worked as a clerk at a barristers’ chambers on Phillip Street in Sydney. I commuted from the Central Coast by train every day while I worked there for a year. It was a wonderful and exhausting opportunity where I learned a lot about legal practise and made some great friendships with people in the profession.

I studied Law/Arts, majoring in history and sociology and anthropology at the University of Newcastle. During my second year of university, I spent a semester studying abroad in Leeds. Before starting my exchange semester I spent three months travelling in Italy, Croatia, Greece and Turkey. 

Before starting at Hall & Wilcox, I volunteered at the University of Newcastle Legal Centre and was a paralegal for a sole practitioner criminal lawyer in Sydney and a general practice firm on the Central Coast. I also worked part-time in retail throughout my degree. I really enjoyed having something else to focus on that wasn’t study and working allowed me to spend my university breaks travelling overseas.

I joined Hall & Wilcox as a graduate in their Newcastle office at the start of 2019. I rotated through the Statutory Insurance (CTP), Property & Projects and Corporate & Commercial teams. I formally settled in the Statutory Insurance (CTP) team as a lawyer in October 2019. I’m also actively engaged in our pro bono practice at the Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Absolutely! There is no particular prerequisite for my job, except having a law degree, of course. 

I think my job would suit people who are interested in litigious work. It also involves a lot of strategy (which takes practice) and understanding developments on the matters - small details can change the way a matter is run entirely. I think anyone who has an interest in learning and is confident to ask questions will do well. 

I am often working on many different matters for different senior lawyers within my team which makes time management and an ability to manage others’ expectations essential.

What’s the coolest thing about your job?

I don’t know if it’s the coolest thing about my job but one thing I really enjoy and value is having the opportunity to work under different senior lawyers and learning their different strategies. Our open-plan office means you are constantly learning by osmosis. On a typical day, someone will be asked a question and everyone will offer advice to help come up with a solution. Not only am I able to listen in and contribute, but it makes it less daunting to ask questions of your own as you realise that everyone, regardless of their seniority, is constantly learning and evolving. 

What are the limitations of your job?

The biggest limitation is probably that the team I work in is a specialised area based on a statutory scheme specific to NSW. While I am constantly learning a lot of general skills, especially related to litigation, legal strategy, and client relationships, they are perhaps not as transferable as those you might learn in broader commercial teams.

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

  • Back yourself. When I began applying for graduate jobs, I compared myself to others, which caused me to think ‘small’ and limit myself from opportunities. I think part of this was because I hadn’t undertaken a clerkship and didn’t necessarily have a strong commercial background. However, once I started talking to people and preparing applications, I realised I had a plethora of skills from my experiences (many outside of law) that made me attractive to an employer.
  • Be open-minded with your rotations. At university, I never considered a career in insurance law. One of the great advantages of rotations is that you can try a few different industry groups before settling. I know many people who rotated through groups which were not their top preferences and ended up loving it (and settling there).  
  • Look for a workplace that has a culture you align with. This can be difficult because firms are selling themselves to you and they will all tell you that their culture is the best. Talk to people and do some research. If you want to work for a firm that values diversity and inclusivity, check out who their leaders are and whether you can see yourself represented.