Networking on Friday night was a bit of a daunting concept for me. Meeting potential employees, presenting myself as an eligible candidate for their clerkships programs and selling myself as a (nearly) straight Distinction student. Sounds terrifying right? The Career Conversations event however, was pleasingly intimate, well catered for, welcoming and provided the perfect space to facilitate discussions with some law firms in a non-confrontational or daunting way. A range of firms attended with a range of representatives for students to engage and network with. These included MinterEllison, Zaparas Lawyers, Leo Cussens Centre for Law, Knight Family Lawyers and Slade & Parsons Criminal Lawyers.
The highlight of the night was the keynote speaker, Victorian Ombudsman, Deborah Glass OBE. During her speech I had an epiphany that literally anything is possible with a law degree.
Deborah explained that she was quite an “average” law student, and within the first day of entering the work force she realised, being a lawyer was not what she wanted to do. She ended up leaving the country on a one way ticket to “write” three years later. Deborah provided us with an insight into her professional journey, in a completely hilarious and witty way. I won’t go about repeating her speech, as I could not possibly reinvent it, but I will say that she was an inspiration, not only for women, but for law students generally. She highlighted that throughout her career there have been times when she really wanted a job, so she pestered them until she got it, and she believes there will be times in our lives when this is necessary. This has been a huge take away personally: that persistence is key! She also reinforced that there will be times in life when you are not really sure what you want, and that is ok too.
For me, Deborah’s greatest advice on the night was to ensure that throughout your career you take the time to reflect on where you are at, and ask yourself, “what matters most?”.
The Careers Conversations event was a great event to reflect on who I am as a student and realise it's ok to not know where I am going. It also provided a platform to network with firms who could tell me about the work they do. This experience has broadened my view of the work that is being done in the legal sector and where I could fit into that large system once I graduate.
Written by Ashleigh Ellen, JD Student.
A virtual internship? - May 2018
I stumbled upon this great initiative from MinterEllison whilst trawling through the LIV Seasonal Clerkship and Traineeship Signatory firm list. MinterEllison is offering students the opportunity to get a taster of the work virtually. The idea of a ‘virtual internship’ is so novel and innovative that of course MinterEllison are the pioneers for such a concept. The way in which the internship works is that you sign up and are then able to enter into one to four of their Lines of Business:
There are a range of tasks under each Line, which include, but are not limited to:
Drafting emails to clients;
Writing memorandums of advice to clients;
Leaving messages for internal and external stakeholders;
Preparing a PowerPoint presentation regarding possible breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth); and
Review deeds and agreements.
You then submit your work to the website drop box, and are provided with an example of the quality work MinterEllison expect someone to produce. I think this is a fantastic idea because I have no idea what I’m doing for most of these tasks, but I have a genuine go, and then get to see what standard they expect. It’s a very clever learning tool and so useful for law students heading into the final years of the law degrees. The digital format, tasks available to students and simulation ‘work environment’ has been a fantastic experience. I have been so impressed that MinterEllison have taken the time to engage in something like this to benefit students, and their future graduates. I highly recommend partaking in this program, particularly if like me you have no previous commercial law experience. This experience should hopefully get you out of your comfort zone from the comfort of your own home. I personally gained a lot from this experience. If you want to find out more, you can do so here.
Written by Ashleigh Ellen, JD Student.
Corrs Chambers Westgarth – Prize for Excellence in Labour Law - April 2018
As a JD student at RMIT, there are a wealth of opportunities available to develop your practical legal skills. In addition to the mooting and international study options available, hard work and commitment to your studies can also place you in contention for a number of formal accolades for academic achievement. In 2017, I was awarded the inaugural Corrs Chambers Westgarth prize for excellence in Labour Law. This prize offered an internship with the workplace relations team at Corrs, which was a truly rewarding and insightful experience. The internship provided a unique opportunity to experience life as a lawyer for several weeks and gain exposure to interesting, high profile legal matters.
From the commencement of the internship, which I undertook in the firm’s Perth office, the team at Corrs made me feel welcome and I was lucky enough to be immersed in real legal work straight away. Some of the tasks I undertook included conducting legal research, drafting documents, filing documents at the Industrial Magistrates Court, attending client meetings and participating in client teleconferences. The legal research skills acquired throughout my university years were certainly put to the test, and it was great to be able to put these skills into practice for a real legal matter. Conducting legal research demands a high level of focus and attention to detail, as there is so much information and a seemingly unlimited amount of cases out there to review. It was evident that efficiency in conducting legal research is a valuable skill, sorting irrelevant information from that which is of critical relevance in a timely manner. As a lawyer at Corrs, you have access to some of the best technology, systems and databases available in the market, which empowers staff to provide top quality advice and guidance to clients.
The legal work itself was diverse and intellectually challenging, spanning from workplace safety matters to unfair dismissal matters. Having a variety of tasks and cases to work on each day is an exciting aspect of being a lawyer. Several of the matters I had the opportunity to work on were also prevalent in the media, and undertaking legal tasks for such high profile matters provided a valuable insight into the legal process and what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ that is not necessarily seen by the public. One of the tasks I undertook involved drafting a response to the Fair Work Commission for an unfair dismissal matter, which taught me a lot about document structuring and the processes involved in progressing an employment law matter from start to finish. Something else that impressed me about the firm was the culture, particularly the willingness of other lawyers to provide guidance and support on best practice, and sharing their previous experiences as junior lawyers. Despite their busy schedules, my colleagues always seemed to find the time to make me feel welcome and find out more about my journey as a law student.
Overall, the experience was unique, rewarding and an excellent commencement to my legal career. Whilst there is an array of career options for law graduates outside of legal practice, I would strongly encourage any student intending to practice to undertake a clerkship if possible, as this provides practical insight into what a career as a lawyer will involve.
Written by Ashleigh Walsh, OUA JD Student.
When it's suddenly week 8?! - April 2018
I find university is this ever revolving cycle. Semester starts, you haven’t done your readings and that’s ok because you can wing it for a period, until the first assessment arrives and then you do a month’s worth of reading in a week. Then all of a sudden it’s Week 8 and exams are closer than they are further away. GOOD GOSH.
It’s dawned on me recently that people don’t understand law school. Over the weekend, my own dear Mother was upset when I bailed on a family dinner because I hadn’t quite finished a lecture and was 240 odd pages behind, with my second assessment due the following week. Everyone is proud of us but no one really understands the pressure and the struggle?
A couple of weekends ago now, I was meant to fly interstate to catch up with friends and have a grand old time, when I realised I hadn’t started a Constitutional Law assignment that was due that weekend, and I couldn’t go. Comments were thrown around like “Just do it up here!” “You can study for a few hours!” Ummmmm… People are all sympathetic and feel sorry for you, but then just don’t understand the time required when study beckons. No one understands the amount of work, or motivation it takes to do this. It’s been a rough few weeks. Since the Easter break it’s just all collapsed on me a bit. If it hasn’t for you, that’s blooming good for you! I realise I now have four assessments due in the next three weeks, lest commencing my preparation for exams. Oh gosh.
And then that dear old Mother I was talking about has the audacity to be mad that on a Saturday night I need to stay home and read an Admin Law textbook. The good news for me was, I was totally glad the guilt didn’t get to me, because I read, like, a whole chapter, and now I’m only two chapters behind (wahoo) and Mum got home after 11.30pm, and I was well and truly asleep. Who’s the winner now?
In any case, the next few weeks will be tolling and stressful, so sometimes you just need to say no, and stay home and read, or do whatever it is that makes your law student brain happy. You’ll be glad you did in a few weeks when SWOTVAC appears out of nowhere. If all else fails just be like Meghan Markle right…
Written by Ashleigh Ellen, JD Student.
Acknowledgement of country RMIT LSS acknowledges, recognises and respects the Elders, past, present and future of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation who are the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet.