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University of Melbourne
Ciara Coleman commenced the Juris Doctor at Melbourne Law School, Studied international law in Geneva
What's written on your business card?
Ciara Coleman, Graduate
What's your job about?
As a graduate lawyer, I will spend my first year and a half at G+T rotating through three practice areas to get a mix of legal experience. I am currently working in the Telecommunications, Media and Technology and Project Services practice area. A typical day starts with a search of the technology and telco news so we can update our clients on any key developments. I will then do some research for an upcoming presentation or to help answer a complex legal problem. Next I will receive instructions from a senior lawyer about meeting a client for a negotiation, which I will attend later that afternoon. That evening I will create a file note on the negotiation, and update and proofread an agreement to reflect what was discussed with the client and the other side. Every day brings new tasks and challenges, and another opportunity to learn and get involved!
What's your background?
Originally from Sydney, I moved to Melbourne at a young age. During high school I decided my dream job was part time scientist / part time actress / part time legal accuracy advisor on Law and Order.
I set about making this happen by studying Biomedicine at the University of Melbourne. I loved learning about science but I was still fascinated by the law, so I traded in my lab coat for a suit jacket and commenced the Juris Doctor at Melbourne Law School. During my law degree I studied international law in Geneva, took part in mooting competitions, worked with the Law Students' Society, volunteered on the Communications Committee for Victorian Women Lawyers and read a lot. These were important in building my experience for job applications, and helped lead to an internship at the Coroners Court of Victoria and clerkships (internships at a law firm) at Clayton Utz, Ashurst and G+T.
Seasonal clerkships provide invaluable experience and could lead to an incredible job opportunity. I was offered a paralegal position at G+T while I was in my final year of university, and was thrilled to come on board as a graduate lawyer when I completed my degree. Before starting my career, I went overseas to find the best crêpes in Paris, learn to cook in Rome and snowmobile on top of a glacier-capped volcano in Iceland!
Could someone with a different background do your job?
In order to practice as a lawyer you will need to complete a law degree and a either a Practical Legal Training or Supervised Legal Training program. You must also be able to show that you are a “fit and proper person” to be an officer of the court. Any additional degree or experience is highly valued, no matter how different or unique. One of the great things about working at a commercial law firm is that the more diversity there is, the better placed the team is as a whole to respond to the wide range of requests for advice we receive. G+T in particular seeks to recruit people from various backgrounds, with different skills, experience and ideas to bring to the table. This helps foster innovation and creativity in our problem-solving approach, and an inclusive and supportive environment.
You would make a great commercial lawyer if you are driven, passionate, hard-working, client-focussed, creative, resilient, motivated, always want to learn, can take initiative and have high attention to detail.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
At G+T there is the opportunity to work closely with other talented lawyers and get to know clients from a range of highly interesting non-legal areas. This means I am constantly learning directly from experts in their field – whether about the law or a client’s unique business. While I love the law, I have always had a range of interests and I enjoy being able to dive into other areas, such as new telecommunications technology, digital health and media production, to name a few! This diverse, specialised knowledge can also be really useful at a trivia night…
What are the limitations of your job?
While my job provides me with incredible opportunities to get involved in lots of important, and challenging tasks, the flip side of this is that the law can sometimes create a stressful, high pressure environment. There are times, whether at university, during work experience or as a graduate now, that the deadlines, high expectations and complexity of tasks can really test your resilience. It is essential to ensure you are working in a supportive environment, which I’m fortunate to have found at G+T. You can use these challenges to push yourself to improve and grow both professionally and personally.
3 pieces of advice for your teenage self...
Don’t stress too much about the future. Do your research and think about what you want to do study and career-wise, but don’t worry if things are not working out. As long as you persevere, there is always another opportunity around the corner.
Always be respectful, enthusiastic and interested. It is something people really appreciate and you will find that you get the same treatment back. Whether during a conversation or a task, you will enjoy it more and it could lead to amazing opportunities.
Relax and enjoy yourself while you have lots of free time. Travel, bake, spend time with your family - whatever makes you happy! And once you get busier, make sure to still take some time to do these things.