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Johnson Winter & Slattery

4.3
  • 100 - 500 employees

Stephanie Ritchie

Johnson Winter & Slattery has a wonderful pro bono program that all lawyers and graduates are encouraged to get involved in.

Where did you go to university and what did you study?

I attended La Trobe University where I studied a double degree in Law/Science majoring in Agriculture. I didn’t decide to study law until mid-way through Year 12. I was really enjoying legal studies and my teacher was fantastic so this was what prompted me to pursue a law degree.

How did your clerkship prepare you for your legal career?

My clerkship at Johnson Winter & Slattery was my first experience in a commercial firm so I went in not really knowing what to expect. My clerkship was a really great opportunity to see how the firm worked, what practice areas were on offer and what the day in the life of a graduate looked like. It was an opportunity for the firm to ‘test me out’  and also a great opportunity for me to test out the firm to confirm it was the right place for me. The clerkship also enabled me to feel prepared and comfortable when it came to starting my graduate year. Having already spent a month at the firm, I was familiar with the processes, the people and the way things operated so I was able to dive straight into the work.  

What are 3 tips you can give to prospective graduate lawyers?

  1. Network, network and network - ask people to sit down with you and talk about their experience and career path. It gives you the opportunity to ask questions and receive advice. Having mentors you can call on at different points of your career is a huge benefit.
  2. Chase and take on every available opportunity - whether this is an internship through university or spending one day in court shadowing a barrister, these opportunities allow you to experience the law first hand.
  3. Don’t give up - applying for graduate roles can be time consuming and tiring but believe in yourself and trust that all of the hard work will pay off.

What is the best advice you have had during your graduate program?

Ask for feedback. Most of my graduate year was spent working from home (thanks to living in Melbourne during COVID-19!). It was really important to ask for feedback so that I could continue to develop and improve.

Have you worked on any pro bono matters?

Johnson Winter & Slattery has a wonderful pro bono program that all lawyers and graduates are encouraged to get involved in. I have been fortunate enough to assist several pro bono clients including Gidget Foundation and Spectrum Journeys. Assisting pro bono clients is a great honour but also has contributed fundamentally to my development as a lawyer as you tend to assume more responsibility for the job.

Why this role?

Not being assigned to a team gives you the opportunity to seek out the work that interest you the most and allows you to try new things. Experiencing different practice areas and working for different teams has also been great for my development. Learning how different people do things and incorporating aspects of their practice into mine is beneficial across all areas of law. To succeed as a graduate at Johnson Winter & Slattery you need to have a ‘can do attitude’, be prepared to try new things and be open and approachable.

The firm also has an excellent culture. Everyone is really friendly and takes time out of their busy schedules to assist you where they can. There are many social events throughout the year, which as a graduate has been great as I have met and built connections with people I haven’t necessarily done work for.