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Clyde & Co

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Bernard Cheng

6.30 AM

My alarm wakes me up, I hit snooze, and make the most of the 10 minutes before the alarm sounds again to think about the day ahead.

The alarm sounds again, eager to know what is happening in the world, I scan through the headlines of the local Australian and UK press, including any reporting relating to the matters I am working on.

7.40 AM

Living on Sydney’s North Shore, first up, a short bus ride to the train station followed by a visit to my local café for a coffee and a chat with the friendly Barista about life, before settling into the train ride to Sydney’s CBD. I enjoy this time as it is a good 50 minutes of ‘me time’ to catch up with friends on Facebook messenger, or just watch the world hurtle past out the train window whilst listening to music or my favourite podcast. These little moments are important to centre the mind before hitting the urgency of the office.

8.45 AM

I get into the city early and visit my favourite juice bar for an ‘energiser juice’ consisting of grapefruit, apple and ginger. The perfect ‘pick me up’ to get set for the day. I walk into the office early and catch up with the other grads and Associates in the team. I am met with the sound of raucous laughter and keen banter. There is always something to laugh about before the tone settles, and the team focuses on what lies ahead. 

9.00 AM

I start the workday off by looking through my inbox to check on any developments that have happened overnight on the matters I'm working on. I see Special Counsel has provided feedback on a task I am working on. Noting the various tasks I have to complete today, I make a plan for the day.

Before long, I am asked to go to the Land and Environment Court to file a brief of evidence and to receive a brief for another matter from Barristers Chambers. There is a lot to keep track of, so maintaining a clear plan for the day is vital, including being flexible when those plans are waylaid with other unplanned urgent requests. 

9.30 AM

One of the matters I am working on has us drafting a complex evidence matrix so a prospects advice can be prepared for the client. This involves examining 10 hours of witness transcripts from interviews conducted by WorkSafe Investigators, and a number of engineering documents against the particulars of the various charges our client is defending. This is a complex and critical task with the evidence matrix approaching 200 pages, and the deadline for the document to be reviewed by Special Council looming.

Clyde & Co Graduate Bernard Cheng working


10.45 AM

Being early in my Graduate year, I attend a webinar on using the firm’s knowledge management services. Whilst this is an hour away from the many tasks I need to complete, it proved an essential and valuable opportunity to be introduced to an array of resources, many of which I can find an immediate use for. I am glad I attended, as I plan to put some of the things I have been introduced to, to immediate use.

11.00 AM

While I've been at knowledge management training, I've received an email notification from another Associate in the team, asking that I prepare a short presentation at the next team meeting with the partners, on current development in Work Health and Safety.

I noticed there is a new legislative change in Western Australia involving the passing of the harmonised Work Health and Safety Model Laws, including, the adoption of a new industrial manslaughter law in line with the ACT and Queensland, as well as enhanced liabilities for third party safety consultants.

Noting only the other day, I considered the first Industrial Manslaughter prosecution in Queensland as background for another matter I had been working on, wherein obiter, the judge made comment as to a need to enhance third party safety consultant liability, I decide this is an excellent focus for the team presentation, and quickly sketch out some ideas in my notepad to return to later.

12.00 PM

Back to the Matrix, I am drafting with another Associate. We are nearing the end of the document. Before long, I receive an email from Special Council requesting that I chat with her about another task related to the matrix.

I visit her office, she asks me about my day, before instructing me to draft a section of the prospects advice to the client relating to eligibility and requirements to enter into an Enforceable Undertaking, including setting out average values of Enforceable Undertakings in the ACT and NSW as a guide to potential costs.

I take detailed notes in my notebook which I always carry around, as I know that I may not commence this task until later in the afternoon or the next day. A notebook is your best friend, as you always need to record accurately the instructions you are given to ensure that you get the task right.

12.45 PM

While we never coordinate it in advance, myself and the other Graduates end up having lunch in the upstairs kitchen together today. Today we talk excitedly about who is being admitted to practice in the NSW Supreme Court, whilst others are preparing to commence PLT where I share some war stories and handy hints and tips, all to much laughter and levity. Quickly, the conversation turns to where we will be heading for drinks on Friday to send off the week. This is serious business and the subject of much debate.

1.30 PM

After the banter of lunch, I leave lunch early, as I need to get changed into my touch football gear, and then head to the Domain with a number of Associates from a range of teams in the firm, to play touch football in the lunchtime professional services firms’ competition. Coming off a win from last week, expectations run high for a back-to-back win. After a hard-fought game, we emerge the victors with a 5-4 win.

I walk back to the office exhausted, but jubilant as I relay the win to the team before heading for the showers.

Clyde & Co Graduate Bernard Cheng Profile

2.00 PM

As I get back to my desk, one of the other Graduates asks me to review her section of the evidence matrix. This is an urgent task, so I set to work on reviewing her sections. As I had previously read all the evidence to the matter, I am able to get into the task and provide feedback. There is a lot to review and has to be accurate. So I grab a diet coke and some biscuits from the kitchen and settle in for a focused afternoon.

4.00 PM

The Associate I am working with on the matrix asks me to explain some of the more technical engineering reports. So I sit down in her office and talk her through the reports which involve a lot of hand gestures and scribbly diagrams on file notepaper. We laugh a lot as we realise that the term dowel, rod, starter bar, reo bar, M35 bar throughout the various engineering documents and interviews, are five different ways of referring to the same thing!

4.30 PM

I receive a late request from Special Counsel to draft a client proposal for a safety presentation to be given by one of the partners. The task is required to be completed by end of the day. I quickly chat to our Business Development Team about the best way to tackle the task, before drafting both the proposal and a cover email for review and approval by Special Counsel and the Partner, before it is sent out later that night.

6.00 PM

I get a message from a couple of university friends who are also Graduates at other law firms. We organise to meet and have a quick drink and dinner after work tonight. We decide that it would be fun to debrief over a kebab at Jimmy’s Felafel across the road from the office. I value these impromptu catch-ups as they are always filled with excited talk about what is happening in our days and it is great to maintain professional and social connections with Graduates at other firms. My Graduate network is tight and supportive which is a brilliant asset to draw on.

8.00 PM

I walk across to the train station ready to head home. I resist the temptation for a sneaky cheeseburger before I head to platform 4 waiting to board the train tired but exhilarated by the events of the day. I go to check my email on my phone for the last time of the day, only to find an email from the Legal Profession Admission Board confirming my admission ceremony for next month. A great way to end the day!