Where did you grow up?
I grew up on a farm in Western Victoria and attended secondary school in Ballarat. After finishing year 12 I was not certain on which direction I wanted to take, however, I knew that at school I had enjoyed maths, accounting and English, so I felt that a combined law and commerce degree would be a good fit.
The highlight of my university experience was undoubtedly the study abroad program I undertook in Germany, where I completed an intensive international accounting unit. After returning from my study abroad program I started working part-time at a financial planning firm. During this time I was struggling to decide whether to pursue a career in law or accounting, however after completing two clerkships during my penultimate year of university I realised that this was the path I wanted to take.
How did you get to your current job position?
After completing my clerkship at K&L Gates I was fortunate enough to be offered a graduate position. I am now in the final week of my graduate year and will soon commence a full-time position in the insolvency and restructuring team.
What was your interview process like?
The clerkship application process is quite structured, which can be both helpful and daunting. In saying this, I found my interviews at K&L Gates to be surprisingly relaxed. My initial interview, which was conducted by a senior lawyer and a member of the human resources team, was very conversational and I felt that the majority of questions were directed at getting to know me, rather than at testing me.
The second round interview was in a group setting and involved tackling a practical legal problem with the assistance of two senior lawyers. Although this sounds intimidating, the process was really enjoyable and, much like in my first interview, the senior lawyers seemed more interested in getting to know us than assessing our ability to recite sections of the Corporations Act!
What does your employer do?
K&L Gates is a global commercial law firm with offices all around the world. I am based in the Melbourne office.
What are your areas of responsibility?
As a junior lawyer, I have had an opportunity to work closely with senior lawyers on a huge array of interesting and complex matters. In addition, I have often found myself working independently on matters, which has definitely allowed me to develop of a number of important skills more quickly than I otherwise would have.
Aside from my "official" duties, I am part of the K&L Gates sports committee, which has been a great way to get to know other lawyers in the firm. Recently this involved helping to organise our firm's participation in an inter-firm cricket competition.
Can you describe a typical workday?
As cliché as it might sound, as a junior lawyer no two days are the same. Some of the tasks that I regularly assist with include reviewing and preparing the first cut of various legal documents and contracts, drafting court documents, affidavits and statutory declarations, attending court hearings, preparing legal advices for clients and undertaking legal research into discrete areas of law.
The most recent task that I have worked on is negotiating and preparing a commercial lease for a shop in a mixed-use development that is currently being constructed.
What are the career prospects with your job?
There is a structured career framework in place at K&L Gates. Even as a junior lawyer we are encouraged to have open conversations with our supervising lawyers about where we see our careers progressing. In addition, we are presented with opportunities to attend a host of personal and professional development sessions, the aim of which is to assist in developing the skills necessary to progress to the next career milestone.
The obvious career path at a law firm is to move from graduate to lawyer to senior associate to special counsel and then ultimately to partner. However, given our training and the strength of K&L Gates' global brand, there are also opportunities to have secondment opportunities and experiences.
What do you love the most about your job?
The thing I enjoy most about my job is the fact that no two days are the same. Given that the law is always changing and evolving, a career in law guarantees constant challenge. This is especially so in a global law firm where there are both domestic and international factors at play. This, coupled with the underlying commercial nature of the work we do, has resulted in both a stimulating and rewarding start to my career.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job?
It's no secret that life as a commercial lawyer can, at times, necessitate long hours (although I am yet to work a weekend!). However, as a junior lawyer at K&L Gates, I have found that I am not expected to stay at work until late at night just for the sake of it. There's no doubt that the working to tight deadlines can create a degree of stress, but with the strong support networks that are in place at K&L Gates, I have always felt as though there are plenty of colleagues who are willing to help.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?