Page 1



DEAN OF LAW Professor Lesley HITCHENS UTS LSS PRESIDENT Bryce CRAIG UTS LSS VICE PRESIDENT (SPONSORSHIP & CAREERS) Sharni NICHOLS WITH THANKS TO Kwik Kopy Darling Harbour 97/1-5 Harwood Street, Pyrmont, Pyrmont NSW 2009


Copyright & Disclaimer © 2016 UTS Law Students’ Society This publication is copyright. Except where permitted under the Copyright Act, no part of this publication may in any form or by any means (electronic or otherwise) be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any process, without specific written consent of the UTS Law Students’ Society. Enquiries are to be addressed to the publishers. Disclaimer: The articles and opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Law Students’ Society, the editor, or the UTS Faculty of Law. Although the editor and authors have taken every care in preparing and writing the guide, they expressly disclaim and accept no liability for any errors, omissions, misuse or misunderstandings on the part of any person who uses or replies upon it. The editor, authors and UTS Law Students’ Society accept no responsibility for any damage, injury or loss occasioned to any person or entity, whether law student or otherwise, as a result of a person relying, wholly or in part, on any material included, omitted or implied in this publication. The user of this guide acknowledges that he or she will take responsibility for his or her actions and will under no circumstances hold the editor, authors or UTS Law Students’ Society responsible for any damage resulting to the user or anyone else from use of this publication.













































FROM THE EDITOR Whether you have just started your law degree and are eagerly exploring future career options, or nearing completion, I’m sure you are realising the diverse career options available to you. I am sure it can seem a bit overwhelming, with so many possibilities! This is where we step in to provide you with Part One of the UTS Law Students’ Society Careers Guide for 2016. There are a wealth of options for your career after law school, thus we have decided to present this year’s guide in two publications. The first focuses on careers in the corporate sector, and the second on non-traditional careers. This guide aims to be your go-to for information on the different areas of practice within the field of commercial law, experiences from both current students and graduates, and the corporate opportunities that can be unlocked by a law degree. I give special thanks to Bryce Craig, the president of our wonderful Law Student’s Society, for his tireless efforts in creating an inclusive environment for all students, and supporting the executive and council members of the society in all of their endeavours. I would also like to thank Sharni Nichols, UTS LSS Vice President (Sponsorship & Careers), and Mat Velcic, UTS LSS Careers (Activities) Director, for their continual support and assistance, and our talented designer David Simpson. We hope that once you are equipped with the information in this guide, you are able to discover your dream, and work diligently at achieving it, despite any challenges you may face along the way. — B r e a n n a Nobbs


PRESIDENT’S FORE WORD As a law student, it can be all too easy to get lost in readings, pinned down by assignments or caught up in the work/life balancing act, all at the risk that we may lose sight of the bigger picture of why we are here. I’m not speaking existentially of course, but rather to the very objective of our degree in seeking out and finding a vocational path that’s right for us. At the UTS LSS, we are eager to assist you on this search by providing you with quality insight, equipping you with practicable skills and setting you up with invaluable opportunities. As we are rightfully reminded of on a regular basis, a law degree can take you anywhere, and the possibilities for employment are as diverse as ever. With that in mind, this year we have decided to increase our coverage of these possibilities and divide our careers guide into two parts. This first edition focuses on traditional corporate careers, whereas the next will look to the array of opportunities that exist beyond. Even if you’re new to law school, you’re likely to have already been met by some of the startling statistics surrounding the issue of law graduate oversupply and the highly competitive climate of graduate employment in the corporate sector. It is certainly no myth, but it also should not act as a deterrent to pursuing genuine ambitions in the corporate space. Rather, let it act as motivation to stand out and keep yourself in good stead for future career prospects. It’s never too early to consider where you would like your degree to lead you, or the steps that will help you get there. Engaging early will allow you time to fail, learn, grow and eventually succeed in your endeavors.

“The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.” — Elbert Hubbard

We trust that this guide will be useful in offering an insight into employment in the corporate space. Use it as a basis for your understanding, or a refresher for your existing knowledge. But I also encourage you to seek out as much information outside of this as well. There is only so much we can cover from what is a broad and diverse field of law. The high quality of this guide is a reflection of the hard work and persistence of a talented team of student volunteers. First and foremost I would like to thank Sharni Nichols, our Vice President of Sponsorship and Careers, for her superb organisational and leadership skills that played a key role in piecing this all together. I would also like to express my deep appreciation for the work of Breanna Nobbs, our gifted Careers Publications Director, whose hard work and insight has ensured a comprehensive and engaging end product. My thanks also extend to David Simpson for the flawless visual design of this publication. I wish you all the best of luck in your future vocational pursuits. — Bryce Craig P r e s i d e n t o f t h e U T S L a w S t u d e n t s’ S o c i e t y


DEAN’S WELCOME The UTS LSS Careers Guide provides a valuable insight into the range of careers available to a law graduate. There is no comprehensive data on the range of career paths pursued by law graduates and employment outcomes. So, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that there are only a few ways to use your law degree, so the Guide is valuable in reminding you of the variety of opportunities. We know that in NSW, as at October 2014, there were 27,575 practising solicitors in New South Wales (see 2014 Profile of the Solicitors of NSW, Final Report (March 2015)). Whilst the majority are in private practices (69.8%), in NSW a substantial percentage work in the corporate and government sectors: corporate (19.3%); and, government (10.9%). In fact, the number working in the corporate sector in NSW has been steadily increasing. There are currently 2317 practising barristers. However, these figures don’t capture the careers of law graduates who are not practising as solictors or barristers. We know from other statistics that many of you will decide not to practise as a solicitor or barrister, or will move out of practice after a few years. You will be using your law degree in a wide variety of positions. A law degree can be a good foundation for these other career paths, whether you are based locally or internationally. The LSS Careers Guide will be an important source of information here also. Since 2008, the UTS:Law degree has been embedding graduate attributes across its core and elective subjects through the curriculum and assessment. This means at the same time as you have been mastering your legal knowledge you have been developing generic skills such as critical thinking, analysis and evaluation, and communication. Each of our graduate attributes is essential for practice, but they are equally valued by a range of employers outside the legal profession. Extra curricula activities such as the Brennan Justice and Leadership program, BUiLD (Beyond UTS International Leadership and Development), and the LSS competitions also assist in the development of your graduate attributes and valuable professional skills. I regularly receive very positive feedback from law firms, lawyers, judges, and alumni about the quality of UTS:Law graduates. Work-ready; practically-oriented; commerciallyfocused; articulate; and good team-players are common descriptions I receive. This feedback indicates the value of a UTS:Law degree which focuses on rigorous legal knowledge and relevant skills. There has been a lot of recent talk about employment in the legal sector, but very often this reporting does not give the full picture about the career paths available. It is also easy to become concerned about employment opportunities if you only look through the narrow prism of clerkship programs, but you would be wise to remember another statistic: in NSW, firms with more than 20 partners account for only 0.5% of all firms. So review the options and think carefully about how you might want to use your law degree, and know that you will be well-equipped for your chosen career path. B e s t w i s h e s , L e s l e y Hi t c h e n s


Overview of Practice Areas In

Commercial Law Commercial law firms cover many areas of legal practice to cater for the diversity of their clients’ needs. Here are some of the areas you could be working in: Banking & Finance Bankruptcy Capital Markets Competition and Trade Corporate Advisory Dispute Resolution Employment and Workplace Law Environment and Planning Equity Family Law Government

Insolvency and Restructuring Insurance Intellectual Property Litigation Mergers & Acquisitions Pro Bono Projects and Infrastructure Real Estate Securities Tax Law Technology, Media and Communications


Overview of

Firm Sizes Written by Elyse Johnston

You may have heard the categories of “boutique”, “mid tier” and “top tier” f loating around. If you’re wondering what distinguishes them from each other, this article will provide some guidance. The primary differentiating factor is size. Boutique firms are smaller and more specialised, with an average size of anywhere between 10 and 100 solicitors. Mid tier firms generally cover the range between 200 and 400 solicitors across two to four offices. Top tier firms are typically much larger, and will have a workforce of approximately 500 employees in their Sydney office alone. It is important to understand that the lines between these categories are certainly blurred and some firms absolutely fall into more than one classification. The primary advantage of having these categories is that the three main firm sizes ref lect the structure of the Australian legal market. Obviously Mrs Kennedy who lives down the road will require legal services that differ significantly from the legal services required by Coca Cola Amatil or the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The main thing to remember is not to let yourself be fooled by the labels. Top tier doesn’t necessarily mean best, and it certainly doesn’t always mean best for you. Different law firms will attract different people, and it is prudent to do your research and think carefully about what it is that you want to get out of your legal career. Traditionally, the top tier firms are known in Australia as: • Herbert Smith Freehills • King & Wood Mallesons • Allens • Ashurst • Clayton Utz • MinterEllison


Some well known mid tier law firms are: • Gilbert + Tobin • Henry Davis York • Lander & Rogers • Gadens • Hall & Wilcox • Maddocks • Thomson Geer • Johnson Winter & Slattery Some firms who have a presence in Australia but are very big players overseas are: • Baker & McKenzie • Norton Rose Fulbright • Allen & Overy • Corrs Chambers Westgarth • DLA Piper • K&L Gates Each individual firm has a specific set of cultural attributes and special qualities that will be attractive to you as a potential employee. When making your decision, consider aspects such as the type of work you will be undertaking, the pace of your working environment, and where you see yourself in the next ten to fifteen years. Another crucial consideration is the team you will be working in, as there is a considerable degree of variance even within each firm. If there is one piece of advice I would like to leave you with, it’s this: have confidence in your own ability to listen to yourself, and you will find happiness and fulfillment!



If you want to make the most of your career in law, our global network is the perfect place to start. Our worldwide capabilities give us access to the most interesting markets, the most exciting clients and the most significant and complex transactions. For you, this means the chance to work on market-leading deals with some of the most experienced and talented lawyers in our industry, together with access to international secondment opportunities from early in your career.

Initiative A curious mind is vital, as is plenty of initiative. The more adaptable you’re prepared to be and the more energy you bring, the more you’ll get out of your career here. You’ll be able to steer a path that turns possibilities into realities.



Excellence is essential; it’s a guarantee we give our clients. Intellectually rigorous, driven and eager to learn, you’ll set the highest standards for yourself and strive to be the best you can be.

It begins with our people


It’s our people who make us great. It is our priority to ensure they are constantly challenged, recognised, rewarded and empowered throughout their careers.

Successful lawyers understand that law is more than an academic pursuit. It’s about understanding the client – their objectives and the challenges they face – as well as the wider commercial environment in which we operate.

Our unique way of working


We adopt a flexible approach to the way we work, which builds strong and diverse teams, and is one of the reasons our lawyers tell us a career here is so rewarding. You won’t be limited to working with a particular partner or group. Instead, you will have the opportunity to drive your career by working with a range of lawyers and partners.

Positive people thrive in our environment. We look for people who can build sustainable careers with us; people who successfully juggle a busy life and varying commitments while maintaining their wellbeing. Like us, you’ll believe that leading a full, active life outside the law can make you a better person to work with.

We make the complex simple


We are known for the quality of our legal minds. That’s why we attract some of the most complex legal work, and why our lawyers are recognised as the best in the profession.

Our clients often tell us we have ‘great people’. And it’s true. We look for diversity – people who bring a fresh perspective and energy to everything they do, with the ability to create strong relationships with each other and with clients.

Life-long learning


As a graduate, we’re committed to giving you the best professional and personal development opportunities. Our training programs provide graduates with practical legal education of the highest professional standard. You’ll build your knowledge of the law and business and find an area of law that inspires you. We will support you with leading learning and development programs to round out your skills and put you on the path to becoming a market-leading lawyer.

The ability to work collaboratively and efficiently with others is of fundamental importance to working successfully at a commercial law firm. Negotiations involve work with multi-disciplinary teams across borders and successful lawyers work to reach the best possible outcome in transactions, mediations and arbitrations.

CLERKSHIP PROGRAM Come and explore a career with us by applying for one of our clerkships. Our clerkships offer ambitious penultimate-year law students an insight into the workings of a large corporate law firm, and offer an exceptional opportunity to experience our work, people and culture. Anything is possible with us – provided you are willing to work hard and are committed to achieve whatever you put your mind to.

Attention to detail Lawyers are expected to have an accurate and meticulous approach to their work. You need a good eye for detail to be able to communicate effectively on paper with both colleagues and clients. Attention to detail is part of providing a quality service to our clients.


Mental Health: Written by Liam Fairgrieve


In the Legal Profession Mental health is an area of specific concern for young people, with suicide the leading cause of death for all age brackets between 15 and 44 in Australia. Within the context of law, both in terms of students and graduates, mental health outcomes have been consistently and significantly poorer than the national average. According to the NSW Law Society, nearly half of all law students and over half of all legal practitioners had reported experiencing symptoms indicative of depression at some point in their lives. With such poor outcomes, the question must be asked: are institutions, be it the firms that employ lawyers or the organisations that represent them, doing enough to counteract this problem? Regrettably, anecdotal evidence from lawyers themselves suggests that the legal industry still has a long way to go.

Law & Mental Health Most law students will already have a first-hand insight into the features of law that often lead to mental health issues in legal professionals. The study of law is inherently intensive, often involving hours spent each day poring over vast documents and trying to analyse minutiae so as to attain an understanding of complex legal concepts. It requires a massive investment of time, energy, and intellect – often at the expense of other pursuits and a social life. The content can be dry, intimidating, complex, and sometimes confronting. At the end of the course, students must commit vast swathes of information and analysis to memory in order to achieve the marks that will see them best placed in a competitive and crowded job market. With all these pressures, it is little wonder that many law students experience the sort of stress that can lead to greater mental health issues.

The author ultimately suffered a significant mental breakdown from which they were still recovering at the time that the article was published. The author suggests that the existence of the Lawyers Assistance Program is merely a tokenistic means of “protecting big firms from liability rather than supporting their employees”. Whether this is the true intention of the program is largely irrelevant; its clear failure in this instance is cause for concern in and of itself. While law students may be aware that large law firms have been at times inadequate in their responses to mental health issues, they are likely to expect better from the peak bodies that represent them. Unfortunately, the poor mental health outcomes that persist within the legal fraternity indicate that the author’s negative experience is not an isolated case.

The big issue for law graduates working in the industry is that, not only do these stresses largely remain, but they are compounded by additional pressures; the pressure to satisfy employer demands so as to be able to remain employed and meet living expenses; the pressure of dealing with one’s colleagues; and the pressure to achieve favourable outcomes for clients who are personally and emotionally invested in real-life cases.


Further to these, many have suggested that the increasingly corporate and profit-based nature of law firms places further psychological stress upon its employees. Deakin University law lecturer Joanne Bagust posits that the corporate culture of contemporary law firms means that firms now defer to the demands of their corporate clients ahead of the hard-won legal acumen of their employees. This then accords with the concept that young lawyers have very little control over their day-today professional decisions, claimed by American academics Seligman et al to be one of the major reasons for significant mental health issues developing in younger lawyers.

Institutional Responses to Mental Health Issues: A Case Study An article published by Lawyers Weekly in February 2013 demonstrates the inadequacy of many institutional responses to mental health issues in legal professionals. The responses to mental health issues by the author’s law firm appear to have been largely superficial, involving simplistic bromides printed on postcards in lieu of direct and more substantial personal engagement. The author expresses their frustration that these throwaway lines are treated by corporate law firms as proof that they are engaging with young lawyers to promote “a healthy work-life balance”, while simultaneously burdening them with over 14 hours of complex case work a day and failing to engage with their employees’ mental health issues directly.

All of this is not intended to dissuade law students from pursuing a career in law. It is, of course, entirely possible that one can make it through their degree and career without suffering any significant strain on their mental health. What’s more, many future legal professionals will undoubtedly find their careers in law to be productive and rewarding, as many do currently. It is nonetheless important that all law students know that the mental health-related support structures put in place for legal professionals, both by professional organisations and law firms themselves, have been at times demonstrably inadequate. To their credit, some law firms will demonstrate concern for their employees’ mental health, and the NSW Law Society operates a wide range of initiatives and programs that work more effectively than the Lawyers Assistance Program (as they made clear in a response to the Lawyers Weekly article). Likewise, many charities and other organisations such as The Tristram Jepson Foundation do stellar work in raising awareness about mental health and supporting legal professionals who are struggling. Unfortunately, it appears as though the burden of managing a person’s mental health issues all too often falls entirely on the individual going through those problems. It may well be up to the next generation of lawyers to bring definitive and meaningful change to the area of mental health.

However, what’s even more disheartening than the apparent apathy within law firms is the author’s experiences with the mechanisms set up by the institutions that represent legal professionals. The author details how they twice called and once emailed the Lawyers Assistance Program, an initiative established and partly run by the NSW Law Society (the very same institution that reported on the regrettable mental health statistics featured at the start of this piece), and received no response.


Mental Health: Written by Jerome Doraisamy


In the Corporate Sphere Many law students and young lawyers aim to work for top-tier and mid-tier commercial firms, both in Australia and abroad. Such firms offer opportunities for career progression and development that, arguably, one cannot get from other employers. The breadth and depth of avenues available for young lawyers, especially in big firms, cannot be understated. This forms a huge part of the appeal of taking the commercial route once one graduates from law school (in addition to the prospect of supposed higher salaries).

Working as a lawyer in commercial practice, and other areas of the private sphere, brings with it an idiosyncratic set of challenges that every young lawyer will have to face upon entering the profession. It is fundamentally important that every individual who enters the private sector not only be aware of the challenges to be faced, but the ways in which you can look after yourself and those around you. To do this, it is crucial that you implement proactive steps to manage your health and wellbeing as a lawyer, rather than simply reacting to a situation if and when it occurs. By doing so, you will give yourself the best possible chance of being the productive, successful lawyer you want to be, because you will be – first and foremost – a healthier, happier person. We are people first and lawyers second, for the latter cannot exist without the former. I’ve worked in a couple of commercial firms and, over the course of researching my book, I spoke with a couple of dozen private practice professionals, from graduate and junior lawyers to managing partners. Based on their experiences, and what I’ve witnessed myself, the most glaring issues that one may face in this avenue of legal work include: •

The potential for a consistently overwhelming work schedule, including the need to work late nights more often than not;

The propensity for an adversarial working environment, in which colleagues are overly competitive and perfectionistic;

Lack of energy to involve one’s self in extra-curricular activities outside of the office, for reason of having to work so hard;

Inability to switch off from the office technologically, by having work emails on your mobile phone and thus being accessible to superiors and clients at all hours of the day; and

A sense that disclosure of any issues will result in professional consequences, such as being fired or passed over for promotion.

It is then incumbent upon us to consider what signs and symptoms to look out for, in light of the abovementioned issues, which may then give rise to psychological distress, anxiety or depression. I believe you need to have enough selfawareness to firstly recognise the following issues, and then acknowledge that action may need to be taken: •

A scenario in which you cannot turn off your brain from life in the office, and find pleasure and purpose in your home or social life;

A lack of motivation to do anything meaningful for yourself outside of the office;

An inability to unwind and de-stress at your desk;

A sense of dread when waking up and getting ready to go into work; and

Perhaps most importantly, a sense of stigma surrounding mental health issues in the workplace, whereby any discussion of problems being experienced would ultimately be detrimental to your progression or standing.

The legal profession is, as shown by both researched and anecdotal evidence, affected by three major personality traits: pessimism, perfectionism and competitiveness. We are taught to study and practice law by looking for the flaws, mistakes and worst-case scenario in a given problem, and thus legal work can be seen as negatively-geared. Employing a pessimistic mindset helps us succeed in the workplace, but it is dangerous if that mindset spills over into our personal life. Similarly, being competitive or perfectionistic can be useful in helping us achieve certain educational or vocational objectives, but if not reigned in, it can affect us socially and emotionally. As such, it is imperative that we be aware of our own idiosyncratic personality traits, and how these affect us, so that we can take individual responsibility for our own state. Having a tremendous workload, or feeling stressed at the desk, are sometimes unavoidable situations. What we can influence, however, is how we respond to these situations. Stress at the desk in particular can hit us at any time, and it is crucial to address it if and when it arises. Get up and go for a quick walk, get a cup of tea, speak to someone nearby to unload, listen to some music or a podcast. Do whatever feels good for you so that you can get separation from whatever situation is causing you grief, so that when you go back to it in a few minutes, you’ll feel calmer and better equipped to deal with it. When we have a tremendous workload, it can be easy to simply come home after a hard day and just chill out on the couch. But it is important to get up and do an activity that will bring us joy and meaning, for two reasons: one, it will provide stimulation that we otherwise won’t have, and thus make our day more enjoyable, and; two, it allows us to refresh and recharge the batteries so that when we go back to work the next day, we will have been able to switch off, literally and metaphorically, and thus tackle the day’s challenges with more productivity and success. Ultimately, it is our duty to take individual responsibility for ourselves with all of these scenarios. Nobody knows us better than the people who stare back at us in the mirror, and thus we know what is going to work best for us. Taking the initiative to go out and discover what events, activities or items help us unwind and take the pressure off gives us the best possible chance of maintaining optimal health and thus be successful lawyers. The idea of “work-life balance” for private sector lawyers ultimately means acknowledging that in order to be a good lawyer, you first have to be a holistic person. In order to achieve this, you must be able to recognise what your trigger points are, both personally and in the workplace, and then know how best to deal with them. On top of that, you need to be proactive, rather than reactive, in managing your health and wellbeing. Whether it’s yoga, boot camp, mindfulness and meditation, team sports, or book club, find what works best for you and stick with it. Balanced people make the best commercial lawyers. To read more of Jerome’s work, visit The Wellness Doctrines website at



Graduates in Law

Aim beyond pure legal knowledge. Beyond commercial advice. Be known for something more: a clarity of thought and an instinct for problem solving that can influence governments and leading businesses the world over. Join us and we’ll help you enrich and expand your worldview, grow your skills and influence new ways of thinking. In other words, we’ll help you move minds.

Begin now at Connect with us on

Pro Bono: My Experience as a Paralegal Written by Scott Preswick

I have been employed as a Paralegal at Minter Ellison for the past nine months, typically working two days a week on a casual basis. I sit within the pro bono team, assisting with the day to day administration of the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service (HPLS). I work directly under two pro bono coordinators, who are junior level lawyers who oversee the HPLS practice outside of their commercial practice. My role centres around the HPLS practice, which involves lawyers attending an offsite legal clinic on a fortnightly basis to provide free legal advice to those who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness. This can include on the spot advice, as well as ongoing matters. Typical matters can include assisting with debts and fines, housing issues, and victims’ compensation claims. My typical tasks include maintaining the roster and ensuring lawyers’ availability, running conflict checks, file maintenance, billing, and updating intranet resources. I also correspond with the HPLS head office at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, a not-for-profit (NFP) law and policy organization that Minter Ellison partners with to deliver our homeless clinic. I also assist pro bono coordinators with ongoing projects, which may involve research and work beyond homeless law. Recent projects I have assisted with include the development of a new Sydney pro bono committee, and partnering with a new HPLS clinic venue. I also assist with legal work, including clinic attendance, assisting with legal research, and drafting client correspondence. As my role is mostly self sufficient, in that I am responsible for day to day administration, with assigned tasks popping up ad-hoc, I have developed my organisational skills and initiative. I regularly communicate with lawyers from all across the firm, from graduate to partner level, and so I have developed my communication skills and my confidence. As tasks regularly pop up unexpectedly, I have learnt how to effectively manage a workload by prioritising tasks and being efficient with my time.

Prior to commencing in this role, I was a law clerk at a litigation focused law firm for about a year. While the roles are different, there were several key skills learnt in this role that I have applied consistently. I have found my skills in time management and the ability to prioritise tasks have been useful. I have needed to be clear and direct with my communications, given a significant part of my role is communicating with various people. While prior experience in a law firm would be helpful, I don’t think that it is necessary to succeed in the role. I have found working in pro bono to be an incredibly rewarding and interesting experience. Pro bono work can be very broad, it can include advising charities and NFPs, as well as assisting with strategic litigation. Pro bono work can involve a much wider variety of work than may otherwise be experienced. A significant commitment to pro bono work is also a pre requisite for legal service providers of the Commonwealth Government, and is increasingly expected by commercial clients who themselves have sophisticated corporate social responsibility programs.

15 15

Property Law: My Experience as a Paralegal Written by Emily Whitaker

I have been employed as a Law Clerk at King & Wood Mallesons for the past 13 months. I generally work two times a week on a casual basis, however I am provided with the opportunity to work more frequently (4-5 times a week) during the university holidays. For this period, I have been working within the Projects and Real Estate department, alongside 2 other law clerks. The three of us work with four teams, each consisting of graduates, solicitors, and senior associates, with a partner leading each team. My role is centred around assisting these four teams with their ongoing matters. Typical matters include commercial leasing and contracts for sale. My usual tasks include legal research, composing emails, memos and letters, undertaking and compiling property title searches, proofreading contracts and other legal documents, and drafting due diligence reports. I am often provided with the opportunity to sit in on meetings with clients or other lawyers, providing me with a greater understanding of how the matters are undertaken and completed. As I am assigned numerous tasks, from different teams and individuals at unexpected times of the day, I am often required to prioritize tasks and manage my time accordingly. Having to manage this workload has allowed me to develop both my organizational and time management skills. Having to read through massive documents and contracts, or find specifics within case law or legislation has assisted me to use my time more efficiently and distinguish important areas. These are skills that have also been useful in developing my study skills for university. I regularly communicate with lawyers from all across the firm, ranging from law clerks to partner level. They frequently explain both the background of the matter and exactly what they require me to do in order to complete my task, encouraging me to ask questions if I have any uncertainties. This requires me to be clear, precise and direct with my communication. Therefore, I have developed both my communication and listening skills, as well as my confidence.


Prior to commencing at KWM, I had no practical legal experience. Having studied Real Property prior to commencement, I had some general knowledge regarding the law within Commercial Real Estate. This was most useful in understanding the legal terminology that is used on a dayto-day basis. However, my skills and knowledge are mostly growing from witnessing the law’s application in real scenarios and putting it into practice. As my time at KWM progresses, and my skills, knowledge and confidence grow; I am being provided with increasing responsibility and various new tasks from the teams. I have found it to be very rewarding and satisfying being a part of a team, and working on an ongoing matter to finally watch it being completed. This has been an incredibly rewarding and invaluable experience, as I am constantly improving and developing skills that will definitely assist me in the future.

Plaintiff Law:

My Experience as a Paralegal Written by James McGrath

Since November 2014 I have been fortunate enough to be employed as a paralegal in the Class Actions Team at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. As part of a social justice plaintiff firm, I am able to work on cases that make a real difference in the lives of everyday people. The firm philosophy is one of fairness, equality and tenacity in pursuing legal outcomes for often vulnerable and marginalized members of the community. In the last 12 months alone, work at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers has been as varied as fighting for fair pay and compensation for 7-Eleven workers, challenging patent claims over the BRCA1 gene in the High Court, prosecuting the manufacturers of hundreds of failed surgical implants and claiming refunds for 38,000 people who were charged in excess on payday loans. Specifically, in the Sydney Class Actions Department, I work with a team of around 20 paralegals on a small number of high-profile cases. Under the supervision of three Principals and various solicitors, we work to identify a class of people who suffered damage and then seek to compensate them under specific legislation in the Supreme and Federal Courts. Each day, my work depends on the particular case to which I am assigned and the respective status of the litigation. In the early phase of a case, I take part in document review and the drafting of summary notes on important events and concepts. Otherwise, post-litigation work includes the contacting of members of the class and distributing funds to the tens, hundreds or thousands of people who benefit from our work.

This type of litigation involves thousands of documents and complex legal arguments, however it is often the paralegals that are positioned at the frontline and act as gatekeepers for relevant information and key pieces of evidence. Therefore, it is essential to develop an ability to focus on a statement of claim and filter irrelevant details as the scale of the lawsuit means that the solicitors and paralegals work together and depend upon each other. I have never been expected to have a deep understanding of any particular aspect of the law, rather skills in research, information synthesis and both written and verbal communication are most highly valued. The nature of the work means that lawyers at Maurice Blackburn do not specialise in one area of law, rather they are quick to adapt and learn when a new case comes in – be that in terms of consumer credit, product liability, negligence, misleading and deceptive conduct, or a failure to disclose material information to the ASX.


Your journey to a world-class career begins here Baker & McKenzie is Australia’s first global law firm. We’ve been developing global lawyers in Australia for more than 50 years – each started out as a law student, just like you. Become a world-class lawyer. Join the firm that was born global.

Ready to explore our world? Natalie Brunton +61 2 8922 5747 18

Find us at


Working as a

Graduate Lawyer Written by Katherine Agapitos

How did I get the job?

Why work in commercial law?

In 2015, I was directly offered a graduate lawyer role in the Workplace practice group at Sparke Helmore following my experience as a paralegal in this team for over three years. From my personal experience in obtaining a graduate lawyer position, having undertaken relevant paralegal experience was key.

Commercial law firms in the mid-tier and top-tier space provide you with opportunities to gain experience across a multitude of areas of law, particularly if your graduate position allows you to undertake rotations in different areas across the firm. From my experience, the majority of students following the completion of their degrees do not know what area of law they wish to practice in which is completely understandable. This is why these sorts of firms can assist in helping you find your pathway, even if it is not in commercial law. The best way to work this out is to give it a go, you have nothing to lose!

What areas of law do I practice in? The Workplace practice group at Sparke Helmore includes an employment team and a safety team, as well as a small practice in building and construction law. The safety team provides advice in the construction, agribusiness, energy and transport industries and Commonwealth, state and local government sectors on WHS compliance, incident investigations, prosecutions and coronial inquests.

Graduate lawyer top five tips (when you get there): 1.

Give everything a go, be enthusiastic and ask the questions you need to.


Have attention to detail. If you do not have it, train yourself to have it. It is a fundamental skill of junior lawyers.


Keep your networks strong, whether they are from university, school, or other social activities you participate in. It is amazing how the people you meet in these capacities will influence your career and the opportunities you are presented with.

I am fortunate enough to have had a diverse range of experiences across all areas of the practice group. Some of the highlights of my experience as a graduate lawyer have included:


Trust yourself and be confident. You have worked hard. You got the job because you deserved it. Trust that you have given it your best; you have backed yourself and you should continue to back yourself. If you get it wrong, that is ok.

Being an instructing solicitor in a NSW Criminal Court of Appeal matter in front of Chief Justice Bathurst of the NSW Supreme Court.


Being placed on a secondment to an agency of the NSW Government.

Be receptive of feedback. As a junior lawyer, you do not know everything nor are you expected to. When you receive feedback, it generally is not personal; it is a method of development. Take it all on board because that is how you learn, develop and ultimately become a better lawyer.

Assisting with the preparation for a variety of litigated matters in civil and criminal jurisdictions.

Assisting with the preparation for coronial inquests and inquiries as well as matters involving the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Mentoring university students through the Lucy Mentoring Program.

The employment team provides advice across a number of areas in the employment law space. This includes adverse actions, bullying, harassment and discrimination, employment contracts and disputes, executive liability, governance and compliance, independent contractors, industrial relations and disputes, privacy, remuneration, restructuring and terminations and unfair dismissal.

What experiences have I had so far?


Careers In

International Law Written by Imogen Bailey

Taking your law degree to the global stage is an ambition for many law students. Undertaking a career in public or private international legal practice may expose you to unique and fascinating aspects of the law such as armed conflict, human rights, trade, anti-terrorism and the environment. Undertaking an international legal career is usually a more difficult route than domestic practice. Here are some of the ways you may find yourself practicing as an international lawyer:

Private Sector Careers in private international law concern cross-border transactions between individuals, corporations and organisations. Due to increasing globalisation of the market, lawyers in private practice, particularly those in larger international firms, will likely encounter transnational work during their career, particularly in the areas of financial securities, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property and international arbitration.

Public Sector Practicing public international law can take many different forms and take you to many interesting places around the world:


Intergovernmental and International Organisations: Groups such as the United Nations, World Trade Organisation, NATO and UNHCR all employ lawyers around the world specialising in a range of fields. Several of these organisations, including their international courts (such as the International Court of Justice and various international criminal courts and tribunals) offer internships to young lawyers, although the demand for roles is (understandably) high.

Government: Various Australian Government departments require lawyers with an international focus to provide advice on foreign affairs, trade, international relations, and national security, and even represent the country in domestic and international litigation and arbitration. Both the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Attorney-General’s Department take on graduate lawyers, where you have the opportunity to rotate through various areas of practice.

Non-government organisations: Organisations such as Amnesty International and the Red Cross work predominantly in the areas of human rights and humanitarian law, and have a strong international presence. Lawyers within these organisations often report on and enforce the protection of human rights and civil liberties in countries around the world. Internships are available both within Australia, and internationally.

Academia: Many lawyers who are passionate about international law are able to enjoy a successful career as an academic, where they may research, publish or teach in areas they find particularly fascinating.

Required Skills Other than a serious case of the travel bug, language skills are often a critical part of landing a job in international law, particularly within organisations such as the UN, WTO or International courts. These often require a minimum of two spoken languages, even at the internship level. A demonstrable interest in international law is usually preferable (though not essential), either through overseas experience, or participation in the Jessup International Law Moot competition. A Masters or other degree within a specific area of practice is often recommended for those looking to work in more specialised fields. Undertaking a career in international law may seem like a very distant reality during your early years at law school, but those who are passionate and wish to explore everywhere the law may take them will certainly have an exciting and rewarding career ahead.

GROW YOUR CAREER Law firms all say the same things. But what if there were a law firm that really is different from the others? At K&L Gates, we are a global community of entrepreneurs and self-starters, we are focused on innovation and we reject the “that’s the way it’s always been done” mentality. We are all in it together and genuinely enjoy working with each other and for our clients. LEARN WHAT MAKES OUR GLOBAL LAW FIRM DIFFERENT. Voted The Employer of Choice among law firms by Australasian Lawyer in the Gold Category.*

Watch our brand video. /klgateslaw

Check out our Facebook page. /klgatesgraduaterecruitingau /klgateslaw

* Law firms with more than 500 employees


Application Dates Clerkship applications open: 15 June 2016 Clerkship applications close: 17 July 2016


Law Graduates & Employability In

Alternative Corporate Sectors Written by Breanna Nobbs

When I first started law school, I was unsure what I wanted to do at the end of my degree. For many of us, this is a feeling we can relate to, but there are many alternatives to private practice and the traditional graduate paths. Our wide skillset plays a vital role in selling ourselves, with employers considering law graduates for competitive positions in many different industries. Through core and elective units we gain a variety of domain knowledge across areas where specific law and legislation applies. This provides us with applied knowledge relevant to positions in areas such as business, politics, communications and entertainment, auditing and finance, health, and research and reporting. As law students we develop excellent problem solving skills, and the ability to think critically. Our verbal and written communication skills are developed throughout our studies, as are our research skills. These are just some of the most valuable skills we gain throughout law school that help us to stand out from other graduates and excel in the workforce. Employers look for people that are able to think outside the box and critically evaluate large amounts of information relevant to their workplace. All of the cases and readings you do throughout law school help to develop these skills. Employers see law students as an asset that can bring innovative ideas to their business, helping to shape their approach to certain tasks. The following three articles in the guide discuss experiences


at financial services firms. Such firms are increasingly looking to tap into the legal market, and eventually to evolve into professional services firms that offer legal advice and support; essentially a “one stop shop� for their clients. We hope this may provide you some insight into another corporate career path that is available to you as a law student. When considering where your degree may take you, remember this; your degree is just a title, and the skills you learn within it can set you apart from the other applicants. Utilise your critical thinking and communication skills, practice your public speaking, and keep up to date with the latest innovations of different industries. By doing this you are able to sell yourself as a valuable asset in any career path you choose, whether it be the traditional graduate path, the Bar, or an alternative industry.

Secondment: My Experience as a Paralegal Written by Sage Nemra

After my clerkship at Henry Davis York (HDY) in the summer of 2014-15, I returned to the firm as a Paralegal in the Banking, Restructuring and Insolvency group and was seconded to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA). Traditionally, a secondment is an opportunity to work as inhouse legal counsel in a client’s office for a specified period of time. My secondment was unique as I joined a team of lawyers working on a specific CBA project, the Open Advice Review program (the Program), to provide paralegal support. This meant that I would work in-house at CBA’s Darling Park offices reporting to both HDY lawyers and CBA legal and business staff. I remained on secondment at CBA for just under a year, after which time I returned to HDY to join our Disputes, Inquiries and Risk team as a Paralegal. Brief ly, the Program began in 2014 to provide CBA customers with a review of the financial advice they received from Commonwealth Financial Planning and Financial Wisdom between 1 September 2003 and 1 July 2012. I primarily worked on Assessment Outcomes which involved drafting, reviewing and preparing letters for customers whose financial advice had been assessed by the Program. In some cases, an offer of compensation was made to those customers who had received poor financial advice and so I also assisted in preparing template letters and settlement documents. More generally, I conducted legal research and provided administrative support to the team as well.

During my time on secondment, I had the opportunity to refine both my writing and communication skills. In particular, I developed an increased attention to detail and was able to practice writing in “plain English” to explain business and legal concepts to CBA customers. I also gained confidence in being able to approach CBA and HDY employees across different teams in the Program for assistance or clarification on any issues. Given the demands of the Program, the work environment was incredibly fastpaced and allowed me to develop my time management and organisation skills. Above all, being on secondment was an invaluable experience as it gave me greater insight into the way CBA operates and its needs as one of HDY’s key clients.



My Experience as a Cadet Written by Danny McGowen

My experience at PwC was as an accountant in the external assurance line of service for two years. As part of the cadetship program, I developed a balanced learning of both academic and practical skills, whilst exposing myself to a great variety of industries and quality clientele in the business space.

How to get in?

For the most part, people join professional service firms in their penultimate year of university either applying as a grad, or undergoing a vacation program in the summer prior to their last year, to prepare for a grad offer. For anyone interested in getting into a job at PwC or equivalent firms after university, I cannot stress enough the importance of doing a vacation program at the firm of your choice, or similar work experience. This is based on the fact a high percentage of hired grads come from vacation programs, and real life on the job experience ends up speaking more than your marks in the real world.

Is this right for me?

In answering these types of questions it will always come down to the individual and their interests. However, I always advise you undertake research on the job you are applying for and see if it is of interest to you (sort of like choosing a degree). Once you have an idea of what works for you, the company culture and the overall career opportunities are probably your next biggest considerations. For these answers – make sure to check the firm’s website, ask friends and family, and see if you know any current workers who could share some insight with you. For me, the biggest thing about PwC is that it boasted a very diverse workforce, with a wide variety of professional services not just nationally but globally too. This meant potential; the potential to internally transfer, or the chance to do a secondment overseas – opportunities that are limited to large-scale firms.

“What do you actually do though?” This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions I get, and I seem to give a slightly different answer every time I am asked – not because I have a split personality – but probably because when I get asked the question I will be doing different tasks. This is part of the career development a large firm can offer you – because throughout my experience I would have had exposure to auditing every Financial Statement Line Item (FSLI) at some point, across a portfolio of approximately 20 clients in 2 years. In my client base, I wanted diversity – so I had everything from Westpac and DEXUS, to a local paper company in my local area. Colleagues worked on big banks, local councils, not-for-profits and charities and everything in-between. This breadth of choice and flexibility in my resourcing was definitely beneficial because how are you supposed to know what industry or clients you like if you have never worked on them?


Skills (before and after)

Prior to working at PwC, I honestly had no relevant experience. This is not a big problem however; as personality traits and work ethic will overcome this and the recruiters know that the majority of specific skills come through the day-to-day hands on learning. Having completed my two years at PwC, I have now developed business acumen, increased confidence in client interactions, as well as experience working under pressure as part of a team.


Overall, the experience I have gained at such a young age has allowed me to broaden my career horizons, and gain a greater understanding of my interests. Furthermore, working with high caliber clients and colleagues has exposed me to market leading business skills and that is something money cannot buy.

Investment Banking:

My Experience as a Cadet Written by Jenevieve Zhang

The UBS Cadetship is typically a 4-year industry placement offered to newly graduated high school students. As the sole financial services institution in Australia to facilitate such a unique program, and with a stellar reputation as a leading international investment bank, wealth manager and asset manager, UBS should be on the radar of any student interested in pursuing a career in finance. Divided into two core business pillars in Australia – UBS Investment Bank and UBS Asset Management – and with numerous support functions like Group Operations, Finance and Technology, there are many areas within UBS which open its doors to cadets. Across the existing cadet cohorts (high school graduates from 2011-2015), there are twenty situated in the Equities franchise under the Investment Bank umbrella, four in Asset Management, eight in Group Operations, and others situated in Fixed Income, Corporate Communications, Finance and Group Technology. The year of 2016 marks my third year at UBS in the Global Equity Derivatives business within the Investment Bank. Having rotated from the business and risk management function of this division to the structuring function, I have worked under and with very senior personnel such as Managing Directors, as well as more junior level employees. Contrary to common misperception that coffee-buying and documentscanning is the essence of internships, the work undertaken as a cadet is legitimate, value-adding and stimulating. At the onset, tasks are vanilla enough to ease you into the rhythms of the business, but over time become more dynamic, thoughtprovoking and integral to business functionality, but not beyond the ability of university students.

You may be asked to liaise with senior management on presentations, resolve problems for clients, discuss operational issues and procedures with the ASX, and so much more. With that in mind, it is important in this highintensity, fast-paced environment to consistently demonstrate an aptitude for learning and a readiness to solve problems and tackle challenges. Recruiters are looking for motivated individuals who are resilient, responsible, adaptable, and also possess a strong capacity for teamwork. If you have had experience working in teams inside or outside school, and demonstrate strong communication skills and leadership ability, you are a strong contender for the cadetship. The wealth of industry and product knowledge and technical and soft skills gained from this cadetship is truly unparalleled. Partnering with tertiary study, the reciprocity between theory learnt in university and practical, dayto-day activities at work fosters an ideal springboard for a career in the financial services industry. This makes the UBS cadetship a salient option for students considering a work-study arrangement, and an outstanding opportunity to experience finance while learning its foundations.



Hopefully you have discovered some more options for your future after law school. If you are still unsure, or want to keep exploring the possibilities, look out for the 2016 Careers Guide: Part two, focusing on career opportunities outside the corporate sphere. Possible career paths in human rights, international law, and criminal law, among others, will be presented within the guide. If you have experience working in an alternative sector, or wish to write an article for the guide, please contact the editor at





Profile for UTS Law Students' Society

2016 careers guide  

2016 careers guide