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Sassica Hoolahan

If you have the opportunity to do a graduate program, take it and try as many different areas as you can!  You may think you know what type of law you want to specialise in, but you never know what is out there unless you give it a shot. 

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Wamberal, on the NSW Central Coast.  I went to both primary school and high school at the local public schools and loved living a stone’s throw from the beach.  I spent most of my childhood riding horses or swimming at the beach.  I started working at the local McDonalds when I was 14 and when I started university began working as a pharmacy assistant at a local pharmacy.  My first legal role was in a small firm where I mainly did property work and estate planning matters.

How did you get to your current job position? 

I started at Norton Rose Fulbright as a summer clerk at the end of 2016.  This role led to a paralegal role during 2017 while I completed my final year of university.  I started the Norton Rose Fulbright graduate program in February 2018 and was admitted to the NSW Supreme Court in November 2018. I have just finished the graduate program and am now an Associate in our Corporate M&A team.  So all up, I have worked at NRF for 3.5 years.

How did you choose your specialisation?

I am definitely not the person who knew exactly what type of law they wanted to specialise in following law school.  I started in commercial litigation, which I loved and I had the opportunity to work on some pretty interesting matters.  I then worked in our Competition team, which again, I really enjoyed.  Next came Corporate Mergers & Acquisitions which is where I have settled.  

What was your interview process like? 

The interview process was quite typical of a large firm – two interviews and a social night at the firm (which is a great opportunity to meet your potential colleagues in a more relaxed setting).  

In terms of the questions asked, you have your typical “why do you want to practice law?” and “what was your favourite law subject and why?”  However, Norton Rose Fulbright asks more personal questions on top of these, such as “what do you like to do on your weekends / in your spare time”.  At Norton Rose Fulbright, the interview process is about getting you know you as a person, it is not about testing your legal brain or quizzing you on recent cases.  The interview process is about seeing if you would be a good fit and equally gives you the chance to see if we are a good fit for you.  Because of this, the interviews are quite conversational. 

What does your employer do?

Norton Rose Fulbright is a full-service commercial law firm, with offices all over the world. We provide the world’s preeminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. We have more than 3,700 lawyers and other legal staff based in Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa.

What are your areas of responsibility?

  • Matter management 
  • Responding to client queries 
  • Drafting letters and advices 
  • Prioritising tasks and setting out next steps on a matter 
  • Drafting transaction documents and resolutions
  • Completing due diligence on new matters 
  • Liaising with ASIC and completing ASIC forms 
  • Negotiating terms of a document

Can you describe a typical workday? 

Every day is different!  Last week we brought a matter to completion, and this week we are (fingers crossed!) getting a new matter to signing.  The tasks vary day-to-day, though in Corporate typically involve document drafting and preparing a matter for its next stage (i.e. preparing a company for a sale process).

What are the career prospects with your job?

There are opportunities to move up internally and there are many pathways outside of private practice.  Some people decide to go in-house or work in the public sector and some decide to go to the Bar.  A legal career is in no way limiting – there are always plenty of opportunities to have a change or work overseas.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, absolutely. 

What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?

My second degree was Psychology and I have always been very interested in people, so I probably would have gone into HR. 

What do you love the most about your job? 

I love the variety of work I get to experience every day. No two days are the same and given NRF’s size, global reach and reputation, we get to work on exciting and complex matters.  I enjoy drafting, whether it is drafting transaction documents, board resolutions or advices, I love sitting down and getting into a document. 

What’s the biggest limitation of your job? 

To be honest, the biggest limitation can be the unpredictability of your working week.  It can be hard some weeks to get to sport after work or social events, but there are only so many hours in a day.  I am a “yes” person, so sometimes I probably try to fit too much into one day (which of course can be stressful).  It’s about being realistic about what is possible, sometimes you have to turn down an extra task or say no to a dinner to make sure you also get time to sleep!

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?

  1. Say yes to every opportunity, even if you cannot see how it could benefit a legal career.  
  2. If you have the opportunity to do a graduate program, take it and try as many different areas as you can!  You may think you know what type of law you want to specialise in, but you never know what is out there unless you give it a shot. 
  3. Enjoy yourself and have a balance between work and your personal life.