Courtney O’Donnell

Bond University
Senior Associate
Courtney O’Donnell, LLB (hons) Bond University 2011

How I got the job and why I chose Turks:

I was immediately very excited at seeing a graduate role at Turks advertised. A position on Turks’ graduate rotation program, to me, represented an opportunity to work at a mid-sized, well-regarded, corporate law firm (which were all big pluses for me) and to rotate through a number of different practice areas over twelve months. More than anything, as a young lawyer, uncertain about precisely what area of law I wanted to practice in (particularly with legal practice becoming more and more specialised), the chance to work across different areas of practice seemed (and has proved) invaluable.

I’ve now completed my graduate rotation and today, practice in insurance and financial services. While studying, there were countless times I was asked what area of law I wanted to practice in and there was never a single time that I responded with (or even considered responding with) ‘Insurance’. Insurance is not typically offered as a subject at university. Insurance and financial services were nowhere on my graduate radar. That’s why I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to experience this area because I’m so happy in my insurance practice today.

Importantly also, Turks seemed to be (and indeed it is) a firm large enough to afford its graduates a diverse and well supported learning experience, while still maintaining a personable culture you would only expect to find in a much smaller firm.

 

What my role involves: typical activities and key responsibilities

Something that I’ve really appreciated about working at Turks is that entrusts its graduates with real responsibility at an early stage, giving them a great opportunity to not only learn in practical way but to demonstrate what they are capable of. In my first weeks at Turks I was drafting correspondence to other firms, legal documents and assisting in a high value insurance dispute. I felt a part of a team and as though I was making a real contribution right from the beginning. There was little to no time simply spent photocopying or collating documents!

I continue today to practice in Turks’ Insurance and Financial Services team. I have the conduct of a variety of high value litigated and non-litigated life insurance matters. My role involves working closely with colleagues and firm clients to achieve commercial outcomes. Day to day, I provide written and oral advice, attend and appear in court, and draft legal documents and submissions. I now also assist in developing and presenting training seminars (relating to developments in the law and best practice advice) for our key clients.

 

What training I have received:

Undoubtedly, the most important and impactful training I have received at Turks has been through the opportunity to work so closely and consistency with the firm’s most senior lawyers and partners from day one. As a graduate I routinely received instructions directly from partners, affording a truly invaluable opportunity to learn from the example of people who are specialists and thought leaders within their areas of practice, and are highly regarded by their clients and other industry professionals. I’ve felt very privileged and rather proud to have learned from and worked day to day with people who are plainly some of the industry’s most highly regarded practitioners.

 

Highlights of the work the work I do:

I am now the senior lawyer assisting in a major, high value insurance dispute, which I have worked on for several years. I am also integral (I’m told!) in assisting a key client in fundamental pieces of litigation associated with a complex portfolio of insurance claims.

 

What I enjoy about my job:

I really enjoy tackling new litigated matters. I like the analytical and forensic exercise of  opening a file for the first time and discovering what it’s all about, drilling down to what the real issues are, and then going on to consider what is the best outcome for the client and how to achieve it.  No one matter is the same, the issues and the advice are different all the time, and so each new matter can mean an opportunity to learn something new.

 

What do I love about Turks?

What I love most about Turks is its people. I’m a part of a team of 24 people, including partners, solicitors and support staff. It still surprises me how well the whole team gets along. Everyone is so friendly, approachable and supportive. Everyone says good morning and good bye, taking time in between to get to know how people are going at work and generally. You can ask anyone in the team for help, from someone else’s secretary to a partner you might not specifically work with; everyone has time for others. We somehow manage to mobilise and coordinate the whole team to go out for lunches to welcome new team members or celebrate appointments or to go bowling. The dynamic within the team is really rather remarkable. I feel lucky all the time to work in such a friendly and supportive environment, particularly working in this profession which is well known for the stress and pressure that can often accompany it.