What's your job about?
I am currently a graduate lawyer at Hall & Wilcox and am rotating through the Firm’s Property & Projects team. As a grad at Hall & Wilcox, I have also rotated through a number of other teams including Commercial Dispute Resolution, Banking, and Financial Services and Tax.
What does a Grad do while rotating through these teams?
Just about everything! Regardless of the team you’re in, Grads at Hall & Wilcox are involved in everything from going to court to meeting clients, preparing advices, liaising with barristers and attending business development functions and events all while working directly with the partners and senior lawyers.
More specifically, in our Property & Projects team, I have been involved in preparing contracts for major construction projects, assisting with litigated property disputes, helping to draft all kinds of unusual leases and assisting with significant transfers and acquisitions of property. No two days are ever the same and I love being given the opportunity to work on a wide variety of matters for different and interesting clients.
Hall & Wilcox also recognises that your graduate year is all about learning the skills of being a lawyer so there are near constant workshops, seminars and guest presentations for graduates to get involved in. These range from practical things like effective time recording and efficient research all the way up to presentations from leading industry experts and even having a go a presenting on a chosen topic yourself. In my experience, the more of this stuff you do right at the start the much easier your graduate year becomes.
What's your background?
Have you heard of Berriwillock? Not many people have. It is a tiny town in rural Victoria where I grew up. My parents are farmers and I spent my childhood helping out on the farm, playing sport and attending the local school. In Year 9 I started boarding school in Ballarat and finally commenced my Law/Commerce Degree at Monash University in 2014.
For people from the city, it probably seems strange for kids to go off to boarding school but for me, it was one of the most important experiences in my life. I had fantastic teachers who opened my eyes to the importance of working not only harder but also smarter and taking on opportunities as they arise. These attitudes ultimately helped me to get into university and inform how I conduct myself at work every day.
I was a seasonal clerk at Hall & Wilcox in December 2017 and was fortunate enough to be accepted into their graduate program in 2019 after finishing my final year at university. I rely on the skills and attitudes that I picked up at boarding school and university every single day. I also love meeting new people and talking to colleagues about their work and to clients about their businesses - something I attribute to growing up in a close-knit country town and being actively involved in my local community where everyone was always up for a chat.
To anyone applying for graduate jobs, I would really encourage you not to forget your roots and educational experiences. They inform who you are and what you stand for and likely equip you better for your graduate year than you first might think.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
I was the first person in my immediate family to finish high school and the first to go to university and into the corporate world. If I can do it - anyone can do it. But don’t think for a second that those opportunities just fall in your lap. If you have gotten to this stage and are looking at grad jobs you’re clearly intelligent but unfortunately, that doesn’t quite cut it.
You have to be proactive. Put time and effort into your resume and elevator pitch and be willing to shake hands and meet new people who may one day be your boss. Applying for grad jobs is essentially trying to sell who you are and the skills and attitudes you possess to potential employers. Give yourself the best advertising possible by doing all the little extra things to market yourself properly - they really add up.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
Hearing back from happy clients! When you are a junior it can be hard to keep a big picture view of why you do the work you do. As lawyers, clients only come to us when they have a problem in their lives or business that they don’t know how to fix and usually it is the biggest and most stressful issue going on in their lives.
When clients write back to the Firm saying that the advice you worked on was really helpful or the transaction you assisted with turned out to be a big success it hits home how much the work we do really matters for people. It isn’t just words on a page or lines in an email - everything you do is read, listened to and relied on by someone who needs your assistance which means you should take real pride in your work. That is by far the coolest thing about my job.
What are the limitations of your job?
You don’t know what you don’t know. What does that mean? It means that the law is so complex and constantly evolving that you will never know everything. But, through trial and error, you will get better at spotting issues and dealing with red flags. After all, you know how to go about researching the answer it is just that sometimes you will need guidance from someone more experienced to point the red flag out to you. As long as you remember those hints and tips and learn from your mistakes you will be fine.
Three pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...