The first thing I do is set up at my desk and check my inbox - I am involved in an ever-changing number of matters which can take turns overnight, so it is important to stay on top of any recent developments. This is the one of the perks of working at a large global law firm like Baker McKenzie - no day is ever the same, and the wide range of work you are able to be involved in means you are never left without something interesting and challenging to tackle each day.
I joined Baker McKenzie as a Summer Clerk in 2018/2019. While I completed my Bachelor of Law/International Studies at the University of New South Wales at the beginning of 2020, I was fortunate enough to have the option to defer the start of my graduate role to later in the year so I could take the opportunity to travel (I was less fortunate with the timing of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent travel restrictions that were put in place). I started as a graduate rotating in the Environmental Markets team, and am currently rotating in the Employment team.
As I'm checking my emails, the office is a chorus of morning chatter as my colleagues start to settle in. A great part about rotating as a graduate in the Employment team is that even with flexible policies in place which allow for working-from-home arrangements, it is a large enough team that there will always be someone to come with you on the inevitable morning coffee run up to our on-site café.
I get started on my work for the day, knowing that there is a good chance that my team will get me involved in something new and interesting as the day progresses. Flexibility and strong organisational skills are key - you never know when you'll be tasked with something urgent with a tight deadline, meaning it is important to be able to shuffle and re-shuffle your priorities for the day.
I have a dedicated Senior Associate buddy and a Supervising Partner who is responsible for my workload, but the Employment team is highly collaborative and I could be working with anyone on a day-to-day basis, from Junior Associates to Partners. This is ideal for developing all the skills necessary to becoming a successful lawyer, and has the bonus of providing exposure to a variety of work in different areas - I could be given instructions on a sensitive matter involving whistleblowing in the morning, and an hour or two later be preparing a research memorandum on recent case law surrounding certain aspects of an unlawful termination claim.
I take a break from work to attend a professional development session - today, one of the Partners in the Employment team will be providing a breakdown of the recent amendments to the Fair Work Act. As a junior lawyer, these sessions are invaluable and are vital to my holistic development as a well-rounded member of the team. While this session in particular is aimed at keeping my industry knowledge up to date, there are other firm-wide sessions which delve into core skills such as basic contract drafting, and those which provide a deep-dive on legal concepts or recent major deals. I'm still deciding on which practice group I'd like to settle in, so these sessions are also great opportunities to catch a glimpse of different teams I might be interested in.
Time for a break - I had lunch with my team during the professional development session, but I'm keen to catch up with the other graduates so I break out the snacks and meet them in the kitchen. I know most of the graduates from our time clerking together in 2018/2019, and it has been great seeing everyone back together in the office. We catch up on what we've been up to and chat to each other about our respective work - a few of us still have one or two rotations to go and are still figuring out what could be a good fit, so it is great to be able to talk to your friends candidly about the type of work they've been doing.
I have a call scheduled at 2:00 pm with a government department, so I head back to my desk to make sure that I'm well prepared. Bakers has a strong relationship with RACS, and as part of the pro bono program, I assist asylum seekers in their interviews for an application for a Protection visa. It is challenging work, but extremely rewarding in addition to being a valuable opportunity to further develop my legal skills. Pro bono work is valued highly at Bakers, and time dedicated to these matters is considered billable work - I feel fortunate to be part of a workplace that actively encourages giving back to the community and am proud to be involved in many of our pro bono programs, from RACS to Shoalcoast Community Legal Centre, to more discrete pieces of work for World Vision or Out for Australia.
One of the Partners in the group comes around to my desk and I break out the notepad and pen to take instructions. Globally, Baker McKenzie ranks among the largest leading law firms, however the Sydney office is lean in its structure, meaning I am often working directly alongside Senior Associates or Partners on large, cross-border matters. This can be nerve-wracking at first, but the support is unparalleled. I know that I only have to ask for guidance and any of the Associates or Partners in the team will be willing to assist. We also have a large database of precedents, past work, and training sessions on our system which I can easily search for examples to make sure I am on the right track. Although it is a steep learning curve, I have found that there is no better way to develop my technical legal skills and build my industry knowledge by leaps and bounds than to jump straight in.
It is time to head home! I am finished with what I need to get done today, but I make sure to keep a mental note of the progress of all my ongoing matters so I can prepare myself for tomorrow morning. I check my calendar to confirm that I have no in-office events or meetings scheduled for the next day and drop by my Supervising Partner's office to let them know I might be working from home tomorrow. The flexibility in our working from home arrangements means that the elusive work-life balance is not so difficult to achieve, and tomorrow morning I plan on taking a local yoga class before diving into another day of interesting and challenging work.