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A day in the life of…
Law Graduate at Ashurst
Jessica Apel studied a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws at the University of Queensland in 2017 and is now a Lawyer at Ashurst.
My alarm goes off … I have always been a morning person and I like the routine of exercising before work. I typically go to a gym near my house or for a run around Albert Park. There is a great end of trip facilities under our building in William St, so I catch the train a couple of stops into the city to get ready for work.
I get to my desk and eat my breakfast while organising myself for the day. I am currently in the commercial litigation team, and everyone's start times are varied. Although I like arriving at work earlyish, I don't feel pressured to be at my desk by a certain time, as long as I manage my workload. As everyone trickles into the office, I will usually head out for a coffee with another one of the grads or someone in the team. Otherwise, on a monthly basis, the senior partner of the litigation team takes all the junior lawyers and graduates out for breakfast. This is a great time for everyone to catch up and order a breakfast meal with all the sides!
Each morning I receive a library alert of articles related to bribery and corruption. I have volunteered to review these articles and summarise the most relevant ones to send to one of the partners and team expertise lawyer. The purpose of this business development or "BD" work is to keep abreast of any new developments or key cases in the anti-bribery and corruption space which may be of interest to our clients.
We have a weekly internal team meeting for an arbitration I am currently working on. The partners on the matter run through the action items list and each of the team members (including graduates) can give an update on the status of their tasks. This is a great way to place the tasks we are working on in the context of the whole matter, and become aware of upcoming deadlines such as the submission of lay evidence. Generally, further tasks will come out of the meeting such as organising meetings with witnesses or preparing briefs to experts.
Following the team meeting, I touch base with a senior associate about a witness conference scheduled for early next week. She asks me to conduct ringtail searches to identify relevant documents which we will use to better understand the witness’s role in the matter and guide the direction of the conference. The documents I identify will be compiled into a brief and shared with both counsel and the witness before the meeting. I enjoy these kinds of tasks as you become familiar with the underlying facts of the matter and they lead to further opportunities such as attending the witness conference and assisting to draft the witness statement.
The litigation team runs a national series of "Litigation Fundamentals" training sessions which are attended by lawyers of all levels, and interstate teams dial in via video conference. Today's session is on drafting correspondence. One of the expertise lawyers runs us through an interactive exercise of reviewing a letter of demand to identify errors and partners jump in with anecdotes of their personal experiences. Unsurprisingly, there are some strong differences in style/ opinion which makes for a lively discussion. One of the best things about these training sessions is the catering!
As I settle back into my ringtail searches, a partner stops by my desk to let me know that we have just been sent an amended statement of claim in a defamation matter where Ashurst acts for the defendant. Last month, I attended the court hearing where the judge struck out the previous pleading, so I am interested to see what the plaintiff has served this time! I am asked to prepare a table comparing the two pleadings and comment on whether the issues raised by the judge have been addressed in the amended statement of claim. I find this task quite challenging as I am unfamiliar with the law of defamation, but it is an interesting way to learn about the substantive law and court processes.
I call an expert, who we are seeking to engage on behalf of a client, to ask when we can expect to receive a quote for the draft scope of works we provided last week. Following the call, I check in with the partner I have been working with on the matter with and let him know I will email the client with a progress update.
One of the junior lawyers rushes over to my desk to ask if I can deliver a brief to counsel's chambers before they close at 5.00pm. I am feeling a bit of pressure to finish the comparison table, however, I haven't been outside since arriving at work this morning, so it is a good opportunity for some fresh air. I deliver the brief and pick myself up a snack as motivation for the afternoon (sweet and salty popcorn is a current team favourite).
On my return, I continue to progress my comparison table for another hour when I receive an email from a senior associate who is working from home. I check it isn't urgent and then decide to finish off the comparison table. I send it to another junior lawyer who is also working on the matter, for a quick review before it is sent to the partner. It feels good to have it off my desk!
I turn back to the latest email, it contains our client's comments back on a draft letter. She has asked me to have a first cut at incorporating the comments before lunch tomorrow. I have a mentoring coffee and some other tasks to do tomorrow morning, so I would rather make a start this evening. The comments require some adjustment to the tone of the letter and research into a particular piece of planning legislation.
The team is quite busy at the moment, so there are a few people still in the office. One of the other grads in the team comes over to say that a group order is being placed on UberEats. Mexican tonight!
Dinner arrives! Half the team sits in the kitchen to eat dinner together, while the other half eat at their desk trying to get home ASAP. I enjoy taking a break for dinner with my colleagues as it has been a busy day.
I finish my work on the letter but will do a final read through for any typos with fresh eyes tomorrow morning. I finalise my time entries for the day, head out the door and into a taxi! I am lucky to live quite close to work, so I can be home in about 15 mins. I get home and (fortunately) my boyfriend has already made my breakfast and lunch for tomorrow. I am quite tired, so I decide to pass up the offer of TV on the couch with my housemates tonight, and head straight for the shower.
I pack my bag for tomorrow while listening to the latest ABC Conversations podcast. Once I am in bed, it is not long before I am out for the night – ready to do it all again tomorrow!
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