Where did you grow up? Important stages of your life (school, education, experience abroad, jobs etc.)
I grew up in Mascot, Sydney. I would say that I had a pretty interesting journey into law. As a kid I remember I wanted to do law, it’s possible that Legally Blonde left a strong impression on me. In high school, I did debating and people would often tell me that I should do law after graduation. But I was not 100% sure. In the end I enrolled at UNSW in a Bachelor of Commerce degree majoring in management and international business.
During the third year of my commerce degree, I was participating in a social enterprise consulting group (called BusinessOne) where my team was working on a proposal for community housing under a new type of property ownership model. It was one of the most useful experiences, not only because I was able to develop my business acumen but I found myself becoming interested in the legal aspects of the project. At the end of the year, with one semester left of my degree, I transferred into law.
Whilst in my law degree I actively broadened my horizons. I became involved in the UNSW Law Society, placed second in a legal hackathon, volunteered at the Refugee Advice and Casework Service, wrote articles for an online news startup, worked as a paralegal for a small firm in Surry Hills, completed a legal internship for McDonald’s Australia and undertook an overseas elective in Beijing. Overall, I would say that there is always something to take from your experiences whether that is new skills or a new perspective.
How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?
I joined Clyde & Co as a summer clerk in 2018/2019. During the clerkship, I rotated in the Environment & Planning team and Contentious Insurance team. At the end of the clerkship, I was offered a graduate position with the firm. During my last year of university, I worked as a paralegal for Clyde & Co a couple of days a week. I started the graduate program in February this year where I am currently rotating in the Workplace, Health and Safety team.
How did you choose your specialisation?
Kind of a funny story - at the time I was a paralegal and was talking to another paralegal who mentioned they wanted to try working for another team. I asked what team she wanted to try, and she mentioned the team I was in, and I replied that I wanted to move to her team, which was the Workplace, Health and Safety team. A few weeks later we swapped desks, and we have both stayed in our respective teams ever since. Sometimes you have to create your own opportunities.
There were several reasons why I wanted to join the Workplace, Health and Safety team. At the time I had completed electives where I had developed an interest in employment and safety law. The second reason was the opportunity to work under leading figures in the area of law. I believe to be good at what you do, you need to surround yourself with people you want to model yourself after, and I want to learn from the best. Lastly, the team offered the opportunity to have the best of both worlds, which was to work on litigation matters (like in my previous team) and advisory work. I personally enjoy the balance of both.
What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?
I had two interviews each one with a partner and senior associate. The questions were about getting to know me - I was asked about specific experiences on my resume, my interest in the firm and areas of legal interest. If you know your resume, you’ll be fine. No trick questions, nothing about how to calculate how many windows are in New York.
What does your employer do?
Clyde & Co is a sector-focused international law firm in over 50 offices and associates offices worldwide. I think the best way to describe the firm is that it combines the best parts of a large firm with the best parts of a small firm. The firm targets specific industries and areas of law, specialising in those areas. These include insurance and reinsurance, construction, dispute resolution (including litigation, mediation and domestic and international arbitration), employment, energy and resources, financial services, governance, infrastructure, projects and construction, real estate, regulatory and compliance, shipping, and trade and commodities.
What are the career prospects with your job?
In my experience, transitioning from summer clerk to paralegal to graduate lawyer has felt like a natural progression. From here, the next steps are relatively structured including, the completion of PLT training, getting admitted into the legal profession and becoming an associate. There are also opportunities to work for another Clyde & Co office, the firm has always been encouraging of people getting international experience.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Definitely - there is no set formula for the ‘perfect' employee. Clyde & Co looks for people who offer something new rather than homogeny. To be successful at Clyde & Co, you don’t need to know everything, but be adaptable and willing to learn.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I’ve always enjoyed mentoring and tutoring so I would probably have followed in my mum’s footsteps and become a teacher.
What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?
I love the opportunities that are available to me as someone starting out in their career. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to interesting and complex matters. There is a sense of pride when you see the finished product, whether that is an advice or a court document, and you know that you contributed to it.
From a non-work perspective, I love that my job has lead to several friendships. During the clerkship, all of the clerks and I became extremely close and we are still close now as graduates, and this has extended beyond the clerk cohort to the people in my team.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job?
The hours can sometimes be a struggle. Naturally, there will be some periods of time where you are committed to working longer hours. However, in my experience, it comes in ebbs and flows. With that being said, it is extremely important to find ways to take care of yourself whilst you are at work and outside of work. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the phrase work-life balance but instead, subscribe to work-life integration which is about incorporating spurts of downtime in your daily routine.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?