What's your job about?
I work for a national law firm that provides legal services to a range of industries and areas. I'm in the final stretch of my graduate year, wherein I've done rotations in four different practice areas. I've been fortunate enough to work in teams that cover hugely differing areas of the law - Real Estate and Projects, Commercial Disputes, Corporate and Workplace Relations & Safety - gaining invaluable experience along the way.
As a grad, I am asked to help out with any number of tasks for junior and senior lawyers. On a typical day, this could include researching case law or legislation, attending and taking notes at court or at meetings, interviews or conciliations, preparing advices for or communicating with clients, drafting court documents and really anything else that might be required in the process of running a file.
Every file that I'm brought in on is a chance to gain knowledge on a specific area of the law, and reading through a file to understand the different legal elements and contentions is something that is consistently engaging and interesting.
What's your background?
I initially grew up in Sydney before moving to Melbourne while in primary school, where I have been ever since. I've always loved two things - movies and debating - and, perhaps naturally, I found myself watching plenty of courtroom/legal dramas over the years. This, combined with a keen interest in English and reading, meant that a career in the law was always something that was appealing to me.
Finishing high school, I managed to land myself in an Arts/Law double degree at Deakin University, where I was able to mix law units with more creative/arts-based subjects like Film and Television.
As I got into university I also developed an interest in crime and criminal law, and I was lucky enough to do some overseas study in both the USA and Argentina that allowed me to further explore those areas. To broaden my practical knowledge in the law I also undertook volunteering at a number of legal services, including a Community Legal Service and a Social Security-focused legal service.
In the latter part of my time at university I was keen to involve myself in the criminal law industry and so I got myself job as a paralegal/personal assistant at a criminal law firm. After spending close to a year in this role, I thought that it would be a good idea to branch out and give commercial practice a go.
After a competitive application process, I was lucky enough to secure a clerkship at Landers. I ended up absolutely loving my month-long stint, and from that point on I was sold!
Could someone with a different background do your job?
A law degree is obviously essential in order to be able to practice as a lawyer, but I think that with that qualification under their belt, someone who is personable and driven, regardless of background, could certainly do my job. Key skills taught in law school, such as being able to read and interpret legislation and court decisions and putting together persuasive arguments are crucial, but also important in the role is having good interpersonal and people skills. Being able to effectively collaborate with others and work in a team towards a common goal is very important, as is having an open and communicative relationship with clients.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
I love the fact that I am constantly gaining knowledge and a level of expertise/experience in various parts of the law with every matter that I'm involved in. In my graduate year, I have been able to work on and develop an understanding on a range of areas spanning from the sale of counterfeit goods to unfair dismissals to the financing and acquisition of CBD buildings. I truly never know what my next matter will entail, and every time there is something both interesting and challenging to get my head around, which always keeps things feeling fresh and engaging.
What are the limitations of your job?
One of the tricky parts of my job is dealing with deadlines and client expectations. This is of course universal across the legal industry, as clients (who pay a lot of money for legal services) have high expectations around the delivery of high quality and efficient service. Getting work done to a high standard while juggling sometimes competing deadlines is something that I have been learning to manage throughout my graduate year, and is something that I will continue to work on throughout my legal career. Knowing when or when not to take on work at a busy time is an essential skill, and one that takes constant reflection and evaluation.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...