Where did you grow up? Important stages of your life (school, education, experience abroad, jobs etc.)
I grew up on the northside of Brisbane. Before moving to the suburbs when I was 10 years old, we lived out on acreage. My brother and I had a lot of fun as kids, exploring the outdoors and BMX biking.
I first thought about becoming a lawyer around the seventh grade, when I got into debating and had some friends with the same idea. I was really fortunate to go to a great school that offered a varied curriculum and I took a lot of classes in the arts, particularly in my senior years. In fact, in the 11th grade, I had the opportunity to undertake a chef apprenticeship on the side. After a few months I worked out it wasn't for me, but I'm grateful for having had that opportunity to test it out as a possible career. I also lucked out with my high school job and worked in a music store selling (and 'sampling') guitars.
This actually led me to study a Bachelor of Music Technology at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music after high school. After about a year studying there, I started to pick up a fair bit of work in the music industry and made the decision to pursue the work rather than continuing with academic study. I started working as an audio engineer in recording studios, which involved working with bands and artists to record and mix their music. On the job, I started making suggestions on how I thought we could change the sound or the arrangement, and eventually I got much more into the song writing and producing aspect. So I spent about 5 years after high school producing music for bands and singers. I had a lot of fun and gained some really valuable life experience.
Before I made that decision in my senior years of high school to go into music, I'd always otherwise thought about becoming a lawyer. So it was a fairly natural progression for me when I decided to wrap up my work in music to go and study law. I was still a little bit sceptical when I started law school though. I wasn’t sure how I'd go with the change, coming from such a creative background. But I really enjoyed it. What I love most about being a lawyer is working with people and problem solving, and I find a lot of the work I do allows me to utilise that different skillset and exercise creativity.
How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?
I've been with MinterEllison for just over three years now. I started as a Search & Lodgement Clerk in the Corporate Services group during my third year of law school. This was a fantastic role that allowed me to work with a range of people throughout the firm, in particular the Dispute Resolution team in filing court documents and the Real Estate team in lodging documents with the Titles Registry. Through that work, the opportunity came up to move into a Paralegal role in the Real Estate team. Having come from another career, I was keen to maintain full time work while I studied. So when I moved into a full-time role at MinterEllison, I studied at QUT externally which allowed me to achieve the balance I wanted. From there I did a clerkship in the Finance team during my penultimate year and then returned to my Paralegal role before commencing as a Graduate. So I do come from a very different background, but I still came through the traditional clerkship/graduate pathway. And that was intentional. I’d always aspired to be part of a graduate cohort in a top firm. The ability to gain a varied learning experience rotating through different practice groups was desirable to me. And I really lucked out. The firm supported me in that process as an internal applicant and I’m fortunate to have come through with such an awesome cohort of friends.
How did you choose your specialisation (compared to others)? / Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?
I'm currently working in our Transaction Solutions team, which is my second rotation as part of the firm's Graduate program. My first rotation was in our Workplace team, and before graduating I clerked in Finance/Capital Solutions and worked as a Paralegal in Real Estate. I'm very fortunate to have this opportunity to undertake three six-month rotations, which I see as a really valuable learning experience. So I'm trying to stay as open-minded as possible at this point and will choose a specialisation at the end of my next rotation.
What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?
All up I think I've had about seven interviews here at MinterEllison now, across those various positions. One thing that's consistent across them is that I’ve always come away from interviews feeling impressed. They’ve always been well-run, informative and gotten the best out of me which is great.
I’ve been asked a lot of different questions actually. Anything from your usual questions about employment experience, through to more challenging questions about my work style. I've also had a lot of ad hoc discussion about my different journey to law and life outside of work. It’s all very conversational. Most of the time there’s been two rounds of interviews, and I think there’s a lot of benefit to that structure. It gives you two chances to make a great impression and it’s also an opportunity to meet with different people to discuss everything from different perspectives and make sure it's the right fit. Often the first interview was with HR and a Partner, and the second was with an immediate supervisor. I’ve even had one-second interview that was less formal, downstairs at the coffee shop.
What does your employer do?
MinterEllison is one of the largest full-service law firms in the Asia Pacific region. As one of Australia's leading law firms, our focus is multi-disciplinary and industry-focused. Our lawyers and consultants work across industry sectors, specialist areas and jurisdictions to add value — offering clients the collective benefits of the firm's industry knowledge, business acumen and global experience.
What are your areas of responsibility?
My role has really varied. As an early career lawyer in the firm's Graduate program, you have the opportunity to rotate through three different teams in six-month rotations. There’s also a lot of fun, extra-curricular involvements.
In terms of day-to-day responsibilities, it really depends on which team you’re in and the style of work you’re doing. At the moment, I work in the Transactions Solutions team which forms part of the Capital Markets and Corporate group. In essence, the team does both M&A transactional work as well as corporate advisory style work. This means I’m really fortunate to be exposed to a large variety of work on any given day. I might be assisting to prepare transactional documents or prepare advice pieces and conduct legal or commercial research.
But there are also the responsibilities as a Graduate at the firm. We receive a lot of training catered specifically for our cohort, get into a lot of the firm’s charitable initiatives, have the opportunity to join an array of committees (social, networking, environmental, innovation) and are encouraged to be involved in pro bono matters.
Can you describe a typical workday? What was the last thing you worked on?
I’m pretty lucky in that there’s no real ‘typical day’. Tasks that I might often do on a daily basis include legal or commercial research (either for a matter or to better understand a client or issue), checking in with colleagues on matters — it’s a really collaborative atmosphere, we’ll often have CLE (Continuing Legal Education) sessions which are great, and most days there’ll be ad hoc client advices or transactions to work on. I’m also really fortunate to be part of a great Graduate cohort and we’ll often catch up with each other socially.
The Transactions Solutions team does largely M&A transactional work and also advisory work around corporate governance. As an early career Lawyer rotating through the team, I'm exposed to a large variety of work on any given day. I've had the opportunity to work on some really interesting matters, which has been a fantastic learning experience. In particular, I've recently been working on a larger scale transaction involving public and private companies across multiple jurisdictions.
What are the career prospects with your job? / Where could you or others in your position go from here?
I feel very fortunate to be an early career lawyer at such a fantastic firm. I’ve received a lot of support over the years and it’s great to be a part of a workplace that genuinely invests in empowering their people. We're encouraged to be our own ‘career architects’, and it really does feel like we’re empowered to drive our careers in any direction we strive to. This starts in the Graduate program, undertaking rotations and not only obtaining a varied learning experience, but ultimately getting to choose which team and area of law we want to establish ourselves in.
From there, some career progression is fairly structured. For example, completing Practical Legal Training, being admitted as a lawyer and advancing to Associate. But there’s also the less structured progression — building your own brand, establishing relationships with clients and maybe even carving out a niche for yourself. MinterEllison also really promotes developing our business acumen, so the firm facilitates client secondments and other opportunities, which also keep the job interesting, and offers continuous learning throughout your career.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
One of the things I love most about MinterEllison is that you’ll rarely meet two people with the same background in their journey to the job. Even for myself, the law is a second career. One of the things I’ve learned in my experience is that you really can create your own pathway to get where you want to be.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I think I’d otherwise go into medicine (if hypothetically, I could pass the GAMSAT).
What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?
I love that there are a lot of really great opportunities available to me, even as an early career lawyer. Not only do I get exposed to varied work, but I also have the opportunity to really get involved in matters and work collaboratively with clients and colleagues.
I’m also supported to get involved in a lot of work outside of my day-to-day role that I’m really passionate about. For example, I’m part of a committee dedicated to ensuring environmentally sustainable practices in the firm and another that facilitates networking amongst junior professionals. I'm also passionate about getting involved in the firm's innovation initiatives. I've enjoyed the opportunity to be a mentor in a program aimed at guiding high school students from different backgrounds towards achieving their aspirations, as well as being involved in mentoring as part of our clerk and graduate recruitment processes.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility? Do you have to work on weekends? Are stress levels high?
I’m not sure there are many limitations as such, but there’s definitely a lot of responsibility as a lawyer, and that can be stressful sometimes. It really is key to find what works for you, both on the job and in your private life, so you can achieve work-life integration and make sure everything’s balanced. It’s about taking care of yourself to perform at your best and being genuine so that you’re happy. Downtime is really important, even if it's compartmentalised into part of your daily routine. Personally I make sure there's some type of exercise and time spent outdoors in my day, no matter what. I'm also very fortunate to have an awesome group of friends and family, whose advice and support I value and am grateful for.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your role, or even be career-focused.