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A day in the life of…
Lawyer at K&L Gates
Callum Fleming studied Arts/Law, Major in Media and Communication at University of Notre Dame in 2015 and is now 2nd year Lawyer at K&L Gates
I usually roll out of bed around this time, though I occasionally get up earlier if we have teleconferences scheduled with interstate clients or colleagues from other offices such as my monthly meetings with the firms Australia Innovation Committee. It is great to have the opportunity to sit on this committee and is a testament to the firm valuing input from all levels of its staff with partners, lawyers, secretarial staff, information technology and business development staff all represented on the committee.
While the time difference in WA can be tricky for interstate calls and those in the northern hemisphere, one advantage of this is that we are in sync with our clients from most Asian jurisdictions.
On my way into work I grab a coffee from the café in our building before making breakfast in the office. I find that eating breakfast at work rather than as soon as I wake up keeps me full for longer and more likely that I will last until lunch without a snack.
After breakfast, I log into my computer and check if I have received any emails from overseas or interstate clients or colleagues (or those that are early risers). I respond to those emails that don’t require substantive advice to clients (i.e. those that request that a document or information that is readily available) and start gathering relevant material for the other emails so that I can discuss these with my supervising partner when he gets into the office. He normally starts a bit later as he drops his kids off at school. While I am not required to start early I find that I am more productive in the mornings. I also like getting a head start on work without interruption so that I am in a position to check in with my supervising partner when he comes in.
One of the emails I received was a request from a partner in the Melbourne office to assist with due diligence for one of her matters. As a global commercial law firm we often get asked to help out on matters particularly in other Australian offices when other teams need extra support. Due diligence is a common task that a junior lawyer in a corporate team will be asked to do. It requires a review or investigation into one of the parties to a transaction so that any legal issues with that party, or with the transaction generally, can be identified. This involves conducting searches of public databases, analysing the results and reviewing key contracts and other documents. The results of this review are then collated into a report and presented to the client with recommendations on how these issues can be addressed. Often this is by including certain clauses in the agreement, or when the issue is a deal breaker, a recommendation that the transaction not proceed on its current terms.
My supervising partner has arrived in the office. I check in with him to confirm the deadlines for my other tasks now that I have been urgently requested to assist the Melbourne team. It is important to communicate your workload with those who you are working with so that you can prioritise tasks appropriately. As he was copied in on the email from the partner in Melbourne, he understands the urgency of that task and tells me make it a priority before drafting an Australian legal opinion for a Hong Kong client. A legal opinion is a formal piece of legal advice on an area of law. In this case the legal opinion requires us to provide advice on relevant Australian laws that apply to a financial services provider based on Hong Kong. The opinion from local legal counsel is a requirement from a Hong Kong regulatory perspective to allow the Australian financial services provider to raise funds in the Hong Kong market through what is called an initial public offering or IPO. My task as a junior lawyer is to research the relevant Australian laws and prepare an initial draft of the opinion for review by the partner. While I work with senior associates on larger matters and transactions, for smaller matters I often work directly with partners which provides me with great exposure and experience.
After a brief chat with my supervising partner I am back onto due diligence, reviewing the other parties' answers to a due diligence questionnaire we provided and the source documents provided by the other party to support their answers to the questionnaire. I summarise my findings as I identify matters in the draft due diligence report.
I have a quick lunch while reading interesting news articles for a brief mental break as I have a busy day today.
A partner from our real estate team has stopped by my office to check-in regarding the status of some amendments to a trust deed for an indigenous corporation that I am preparing. I enjoy helping out other teams and the variety of work that being in the corporate team brings. This variety is one of the reasons I choose to settle in the corporate team, as well as the scope for international and interstate work which I find adds another level of excitement to matters. A key consideration I have found when working with indigenous corporations is being mindful of your target audience who often prefer a straight talking way of drafting. There are also cultural sensitivities to be aware of which we would not otherwise know without listening to the client's concerns. I make the amendments to the trust deed as I know that I can complete this task quickly and that it will be some time before I will be able to get to the amendments if I try to complete the due diligence first.
Having finished the amendments I email the document through to the partner and print them off. I deliver them to the partner as he prefers to review documents in hard copy. It is then back onto due diligence for me. Realising that there are still quite a few documents to review on the due diligence I call the partner to let her know my progress and so I can figure out if I need to stay late tonight to finish the review. She indicates that tomorrow is fine for my review of the documents allocated to me.
I finish up my review of the due diligence documents and plan to come in early tomorrow to tackle the due diligence task head on in the morning. I check in with the rest of my team to see if anyone else needs anything from me tonight before heading home. I catch the bus home, put on some Netflix and warm up some leftovers for dinner.
Time to chill out and unwind for the night! Sometimes I play an hour or so of Xbox before hitting the hay around 10:30pm ready for a big day tomorrow.
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