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Ash Wickremasinghe worked as a summer clerk at G+T in 2013, spent last year on G+T’s graduate secondment in Japan
What's written on your business card?
Ash Wickremasinghe, Graduate.
What's your job about?
Gilbert + Tobin provides highly specialised legal services to a wide range of groups and individuals that need help, including commercial and non-commercial clients, and my role is to actively play a part in a team to make this happen.
I help solve the legal problems that clients face by working alongside my team at G+T. I help draft contracts, advice, correspondence and submissions in addition to undertaking research on points of law, attending court hearings and contributing to the firm’s knowledge databases. I spent a good part of a year creating a comprehensive Australian consumer law knowledge tool to assist lawyers in the firm engaged in such matters.
Yes, in fact we once had a Year 10 student at the firm for a week on work experience. He was able to grasp a general idea of what lawyers do but was too nervous to draft anything!
What's your background?
I grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
In 2013 I was given the opportunity to work as a summer clerk at G+T and served as a paralegal after that during the final year of my law degree. I spent last year on G+T’s graduate secondment in Japan, working at a law firm in Tokyo and traveling extensively around the country on holidays and weekends. It was, without a doubt, the best year of my life. From climbing to the summit of Mount Fuji to slurping tasty soba at a local noodle bar to experiencing the warmth of being included as part of a Japanese family to meditating in zazen at a traditional monastery, it was all a dream and it’s hard to pick a favourite moment.
Having grown up in a country mired in civil war, the move to Australia at the age of 15 and the experience of living in both America and Japan have developed within me an unwavering sense of gratitude for the safety, comfort and abundance I experience each day. I am lucky to have had the opportunities I’ve had to develop empathy for peoples and cultures from across the world, and hope to continue learning and growing in the future.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
No. The tasks I perform require an understanding of the law and how it is and has been applied in the past, as well as a very specific set of legal problem-solving skills. While it is important to have an understanding of how particular legal problems have been resolved in the past, one should also have the ability to think beyond what one already knows, and be open to exploring original solutions. To do this, one has to be able to think beyond analogies and familiar patterns of thinking, and truly embrace the first principles of law.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
The moment I most love is when I find a case that responds, exactly, to the points of law in issue in a matter I’m working on. That sense of accomplishment, after hours of gruelling research, along with the subsequent appreciation of my supervisor, is highly rewarding.
What are the limitations of your job?
The main limitation is the demand on time, so the ability to prioritise is essential. Build pockets of stillness into your days and find time for family, friends and your passions, and make sure you get the sleep you need. There are times when you will have to work late hours and on weekends but if you’re equipped with the right tools, it’s just another experience from which to grow.3 pieces of advice for your teenage self...
3 pieces of advice for your teenage self...
- Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
- Do not be afraid to change your mind; in fact, actively give yourself the uncomfortable luxury of doing so.
- Keep a beginner’s mind and apply yourself widely.