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K&L Gates

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Ellen Richmond

Throughout my time as a graduate, I was given the opportunity to participate in a range of professional development opportunities, which gave me a better understanding of what I wanted out of my career.

What is it like to go through the K&L Gates clerkship application and interview process?

I started my career at K&L Gates in the seasonal clerk program in Perth, Western Australia.

I appreciated that the firm's clerkship application process was engaging and that I had an opportunity to interact with a wide range of people in the firm throughout this process. The first step involved an online application with some videos explaining the firm, its culture and what it was looking for in a clerk. The next step was the interview process - which involved meeting with a range of lawyers and getting the chance to discuss my interest in K&L Gates.

During my clerkship I was placed in the Real Estate team and got the chance to attend client lunches, review leases, draft research memorandums and create diagrams to streamline the client assessment process.

The most memorable part of my time as a clerk was how welcoming everyone in the office was and how approachable the senior lawyers/partners were. I felt supported in the work I was doing, received regular feedback and was given opportunities to engage with clients and lawyers nationally and internationally. The clerkship involved a good balance of work and activities, and I even got to spend part of my last day decorating for the infamous Christmas decorating competition.

After my clerkship, I was invited back to paralegal for the Real Estate team. I was able to continue to grow my research skills while also having the opportunity to learn more about the firm's values and culture. 

Being a Graduate at K&L Gates

My graduate year had many twists and turns, and it did not turn out how I expected it to. I did three rotations in my graduate year - Commercial Litigation, Real Estate and Corporate/M&A.

My first few weeks as a graduate were spent in the office, mostly undergoing training, when the COVID-19 pandemic sent us all packing to work from home. I had not had much of a chance to get to know my team and I was worried at the time about how working from home would affect my ability to learn and grow.

I was working across two litigation teams at the time, as I was rotating in one team and the other team had a large review project that required assistance. The teams took the pandemic on board and I had calls every second day with one team and weekly calls with the other team. It was refreshing to get to know people on a more personal level; I loved hearing the anecdotes about working from home woes or sharing pictures of things going on in day-to-day. The grads and HR got creative in how they connected virtually, to check in and see the working from home setups.

Luckily, the COVID-19 lockdown did not last long in Perth, and before I knew it, I was back in the office, getting to work face-to-face again.

During my litigation rotation, I got to work on a range of very interested and complex matters. I particularly enjoyed getting to work methodically through the progress of a matter by reviewing all the email chains and communications to create a chronology of the legal issues. I got to review documentation for legal professional privilege (let me tell you, it's not as easy as it sounds!), draft various court documents, research the court protocols during COVID-19, draft a bill of costs, prepare research memorandums and shadow the senior lawyers in meetings with clients and/or counsel.

My second rotation was Real Estate, where I had clerked and worked as a paralegal. There were various changes in this area due to COVID-19 legislation, so there was always an abundance of work to complete during my rotation. I got to research and interpret these legislative changes and draft advice to clients on the impact of this COVID-19 legislation. My team gave me the opportunity to meet with various clients, learn how to manage some of the smaller matters and advice clients on various commercial contracts.

My last rotation was Corporate/M&A, which was probably the area I knew least about. Based on what I had learnt in Corporations Law at university, I thought I was going to be spending every day advising on the nuances of director's duties! My day-to-day in the Corporate team involved reviewing executions of documents, assisting to manage a completion checklist, conducting searches of companies, assisting in due diligence tasks and researching ASX and FIRB requirements.

Throughout my time as a graduate, I was given the opportunity to participate in a range of professional development opportunities, which gave me a better understanding of what I wanted out of my career. The firm ran national and international training/business development seminars, gave me the opportunity to work with lawyers nationally and internationally, encouraged my sub-areas of interest in the law, gave consistent and useful feedback throughout my rotations and supported my interested outside of the office. I had the opportunity to assess and reflect on what I wanted in my career and choose the area that I could see myself practising in, which ended up being Corporate/M&A.

In addition to this, I was also given plenty of opportunities to have some fun, show my personality and get involved in firm initiatives. I had the chance to be involved in the social committee and, as graduates, we got to be involved in running some fun firm events!

Now that I have settled as a first year lawyer at K&L Gates and have a lot of the stresses and worries of law school, PLT's and my graduate year behind me, I can reflect on how worthwhile the process is. I was grateful to be given the opportunity to try different fields of law, continue to learn about new areas of the law and come to work every day with some great people!