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Clifford Chance

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Claira Jamieson

My areas of responsibility involve working on various matters that are typically litigation files.

Where did you grow up? What have been some important stages of your life in regards to your schooling, education, previous employment and so forth?

I grew up in the Perth Hills. I went to Carmel Adventist College, graduating in 2005. I took a six-month break and during this time went on a holiday with my parents overseas for about two months. I then started my science/nursing degree in the middle of 2006 at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, graduating at the end of 2009. I worked part-time during my studies in various part-time jobs. I had jobs at the local bakery, at a bookstore, at a cafe and then as a carer at an aged care facility. 

After graduating, I worked full time as a nurse (in neurosurgery) during 2010, as part of a graduate program. I then decided to pursue a law degree (which I'd deferred) and started full time at the University of Western Australia in 2011. I moved to Sydney in my second year and finished my degree at the University of Technology Sydney. 

I completed a summer clerkship at an international law firm in Sydney and was offered a position to start as a graduate solicitor in early 2014, which I happily accepted. Before my final year of law school, I also applied for an associate role and was offered a position with the former honourable justice Buchanan of the Federal Court of Australia for around one and a half years starting in mid-2015. 

How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?

I gained my current role through a recruiter and I've been working for Clifford Chance since March 2018. 

How did you choose your specialisation?

I chose my specialisation of working as a solicitor in commercial law after finishing my nursing degree. This decision really came about after I'd completed my graduate rotations and associateship and decided that I wanted to pursue a career in commercial litigation. I really enjoy the pace of the work, the daily interaction with people (both clients and colleagues), working as part of a team and the fact-finding, investigative nature of the work. 

What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?

In my current role, I had an interview with the three partners who run the litigation team at Clifford Chance in Sydney. Any interview is always really intimidating, but usually, the thought of it is worse than the actual interview itself. I was asked questions around my role at the time: what kinds of matters I was working on, what my day-to-day responsibilities were, what skills I was looking to develop and what type of work I found interesting. I was also asked general questions about what I enjoy doing in my spare time.

What does your employer do?

My employer is a global law firm with a particular focus on banking and finance, corporate law and litigation, and dispute resolution. 

What are your areas of responsibility?

My areas of responsibility involve working on various matters that are typically litigation files. I work closely with the team, which will typically include the partner, a senior associate and graduates. I am responsible for helping to manage the day-to-day running of the matters.

Can you describe a typical work day?

My work days can vary greatly, depending on whether we are in court, meetings or the office. Typically, I will have a few hours dedicated to one task, which may be drafting an advice or other legal document; a few hours coordinating various matter-related tasks (including asking others for their help); I may have a court hearing or directions listing that will require preparation or attendance; and I will usually have various meetings or conferences with clients, barristers and others involved in the litigation process.

As the law firm I work for is international, we are often on calls with colleagues from across the globe to discuss cases or sometimes for training.

What are the career prospects with your job? Where could you or others in your position go from here?

In my current job, there is room to grow and develop within the role, which would lead to taking on more responsibilities in the matters. From a career in law there are various other roles that people can step into, including government, in-house or consulting positions.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Lawyers are all required to be registered with professional bodies (in New South Wales this is the Law Society of New South Wales) and are required to hold a law degree. 

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

It would probably be something totally different again – maybe a teacher or a florist.

What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?

I love the teamwork involved in my job. There are plenty of opportunities to have discussions with those in your team about a client's legal issue, including how best to approach a task or what the pursued outcome should be. I enjoy the strategizing and implementation stages, achieving the best result we can for our clients.

What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility? Are the stress levels high?

I guess one of the biggest limitations of my job is having to balance a number of things at one time which, as in any job, can be quite stressful. However, this is usually balanced by having a team and having someone there to help you out.

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

  • Don't ever think you can't achieve something. If one opportunity doesn't work out, you can be sure that many others will. You just need to keep striving for them.
  • Make sure you have a hobby outside of your career, whether this is a sport, art etc.
  • Be open to opportunities that might not fit in with what you consider as your perfect career plan. The chance to move to a new city or step into a different role that you hadn't considered before may be something that proves to be worthwhile.