Updating Results

Khushaal Vyas

There isn't a 'traditional' career path to follow. Don't pressure yourself to fit into an expected career 'mould'. The workplace is full of people with diverse experiences.

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up, and still live, in Wetherill Park in the Western suburbs of Sydney (West is best). The diversity of the area has helped to shape my appreciation for Australia's multiculturalism and has developed my passion for advocacy on multicultural issues. While the trek into work can be a little onerous, home is where the heart is. 

Every stage of life has moments you reflect on and consider to be particularly important. 

I was lucky enough to go to a school which offered and encouraged participation in a range of co-curricular activities especially in the fields of public speaking and debating. Those opportunities opened a lot of doors for me not only during school but throughout university and even my professional life, including securing a position as a Graduate at Baker McKenzie. 

My experiences during university also had a profound impact on my life.  I was involved in UNSW's Law Society (LawSoc), had the opportunity to lead the Social Justice portfolio, and step up to LawSoc President the following year. These positions gave me an insight into the meaningful advocacy roles we can undertake as students and young lawyers. In particular, I co-founded a volunteer program in the Dubbo-Trangie area, working with local schools and Indigenous mentoring programs. This program provided me with an opportunity to develop a close bond with community leaders and Elders in the area. It also gave me an in-depth understanding of the long road we have ahead to help both our regional and Indigenous populations. The program is now one of Baker McKenzie's community service initiatives. It provides a way for the Firm to give back and to advocate for those in our communities who are afforded less opportunity. 

How did you get to your current job position? 

I applied for the 2017/2018 Baker McKenzie Sydney Summer Clerkship Program. The application process involved a written online application and a two-stage interview process. After my Clerkship, I undertook a casual Research Clerk role at the Firm while completing my studies. In September 2019, I commenced the Baker McKenzie Graduate Program and I am currently embracing the challenging transition from university life to full time work and adult responsibilities!

How did you choose your specialisation?

The blessing (and curse) of a law degree is how broad your options are upon graduation. The breadth of options can be overwhelming. Although I considered alternative fields (e.g. government, consulting, and public interest), the strong focus on development and exposure to high-intensity legal work offered in private practice, at Baker McKenzie in particular, really appealed to me. 

It is for this reason I pursued a Summer/Seasonal Clerkship, a popular pathway into the workforce for many law students. The two key reasons I chose Baker McKenzie for my Clerkship (and career) were the global opportunities offered by the Firm and the Firm's innovative nature and openness to new ideas.

Upon commencing my Graduate Program with Baker McKenzie, it was really rewarding to experience the strong development program tailored specifically to graduates new to legal practice. There are infinite opportunities to sink my teeth into real legal issues, working alongside senior lawyers and partners, many of whom are experts in their practice areas. It is also exciting to experience the global and innovative nature of the Firm first-hand.

I am currently in my first of three 6-month Graduate rotations, working in the Construction team. At Baker McKenzie, this practice group is unique in that it provides exposure to both the 'front end' (transactional/contractual) and 'back end' (litigious) areas of law. At the end of my 18 month Graduate Program, I will permanently join one of the three practice groups through which I  rotated and begin to specialise in a specific area of law. 

What was your interview process like? 

The interview process was surprisingly enjoyable. At Baker McKenzie, the interview questions are not designed as a spot quiz on legal issues, but rather as a tool to get to know you, your interests, motivations, and aspirations. I spent a fair bit of time talking about my interest in law, what skills I could bring to the Firm and why I was interested in a career at Baker McKenzie.  

But I also had engaging discussions about my interests and quirks - from discussions on the state of the Australian Cricket Team, to bonding over a mutual appreciation of 'The IT Crowd', to getting excited about the fact that my interviewer and I grew up in the same area. The interviews also provided me with an opportunity to ask my own questions and get to know more about the Firm. 

I really enjoyed the fact that the Baker McKenzie interviews were conducted in a way to encourage you to just be yourself too.

What does your employer do?

Baker McKenzie is a full-service, global commercial law firm, which specialises in a broad range of practice areas. 

What are your areas of responsibility?

I am still a baby lawyer and a little way off from being one of those lawyers you see on TV shows. However, I am still given significant responsibility. For example: 

  • I've been involved in liaising with our Asia-Pacific colleagues to organise contracts for a large MNC;
  • I've helped draft expert determination submissions, and assisted with interviewing and compiling witness statements;
  • I've conducted legal research to assist with the provision of specific advice to clients; and
  • I've been responsible for updating contracts for clients in line with recent legal updates and analysing documents/evidence for pending disputes.

Can you describe a typical workday?

There is no such thing as a 'typical' day as a Graduate! Every day there is something exciting and different. As soon as I get into the office, I review my emails to see what matters need attention and prioritise my tasks for the day. 

Recently, I have been finalising submissions for an upcoming arbitration hearing. Most of my day was spent reviewing exhibits and amending the submissions. Submissions have hard deadlines and require lots of attention to detail! It was very rewarding to see all of my research come together and the impact of my own work in the broader context of the matter.

What are the career prospects with your job?

Baker McKenzie offers a range of international experiences and exposure to global, cross-border matters. 

Before I started the Baker McKenzie Graduate Program, I had the opportunity to undertake an International Clerkship in the Baker McKenzie London office for four weeks.  This was an amazing experience and gave me a unique insight into the global legal market.

With such outstanding opportunities being offered at a junior level, Baker McKenzie's renowned global training programs, and having worked on international commercial arbitration matters with our APAC offices, I am looking forward to developing into a strong global lawyer! 

Could someone with a different background do your job?

The diversity of my colleagues, in terms of their backgrounds and experiences, is fascinating and really strengthens the Firm. We have people who are also experts in a range of areas - technology, engineering, business, arts and entertainment, and the list goes on. It is rewarding to work alongside people from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds - it makes the legal market more effective and competitive. 

Specifically, during my Construction rotation, I've managed to undertake the work despite not having a background in engineering.  When my colleagues are talking in heavy engineering jargon, Google is always there to save the day and I am learning quickly! 

What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now? 

I've been told I talk a lot and, at times, too much! So if it wasn't law, perhaps something media or consulting-related. Or perhaps I'd trade it all in and live up to that dream of breaking into Bollywood. 

What do you love the most about your job?

The amount of learning on the job is the biggest highlight. Until you start practising law, everything you learn still has an abstract element to it. Applying the knowledge you've gained at university, together with your new knowledge/skills, to a real-world context gives you the opportunity to learn and see how you can bring everything together.  It is also exciting to see the impact you can have on a real legal matter.  

In particular, I have really enjoyed the dispute resolution tasks because they have enabled me to see all of the pieces of the puzzle come together (including the small tasks that may not have seemed particularly significant). I have also enjoyed working across borders within a global firm. It definitely keeps things interesting. 

What’s the biggest limitation of your job? 

Law is a very detail-oriented profession and clients rely on our prompt advice. Managing client expectations and demands along with hard deadlines can be challenging. Like any job, there can be demanding and busy periods. The great thing about Bakers is that during these periods you are in a supportive environment with great mentors, who are keen to develop you and help you succeed.

I would recommend finding a work environment that supports you and your working style too. Work culture is definitely an important consideration when choosing where to start your career. 

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student? 

  1. Get involved with whatever you're interested in at university. Embracing your interests will help you to stand out to future employers. Being involved in activities that weren't purely academic opened up many doors for me. 
  2. There isn't a 'traditional' career path to follow. Don't pressure yourself to fit into an expected career 'mould'. The workplace is full of people with diverse experiences. People are making bold new career choices at all levels of seniority. As a junior, you will build your career from your own experiences and forge your own unique path. 
  3. Look out for your peers and look out for yourself. The transition from university to the workplace can be challenging. Make sure you make time yourself and for your friends and family.