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Clifford Chance

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Kathryn Hender

Working as a lawyer not only requires you to recite case law and legislation but also requires you to give commercial rounded advice.

What's your job about?

I am an Associate at Clifford Chance Sydney in the Antitrust team. The antitrust team deals with both contentious and non-contentious work. We provide advice to clients on a range of competition and consumer law issues, conduct investigations into companies in response to notices issued by the ACCC and represent clients in litigation.

During a typical week I will be in contact with at least one other colleague from one of our many international offices, due to the cross jurisdictional nature of our work. My work largely involves preparing the first draft of documents. During a typical week I will draft legal advice, letters and emails relating to the various matters we are working on. The matters we work on are niche and relatively complex. Each matter brings a new challenge and industry to understand. Our clients are varied and come from a wide range of industries.

Prior to becoming an Associate, I was a graduate at Clifford Chance. The graduate programme is two years with four six month rotations. The graduate programme allowed me to work in antitrust as well as litigation, finance and litigation in Tokyo before deciding which practice group to settle in. I have enjoyed all my rotations as they have enabled me to get to know my colleagues in my office and overseas. I particularly enjoyed my Tokyo rotation as I was exposed to Japanese law, a new city and a new culture!

What's your background?

I grew up in Melbourne and after completing high school I spent a year working in Nanjing, China. In China I worked as an assistant teacher at the Nanjing campus of my high school. My time in China ignited a passion for learning Mandarin and working overseas. Through this experience I knew I wanted to pursue a career that would enable me to work overseas. I then moved to Canberra and studied at the Australian National University for five years. As part of my degree I spent three months in Taiwan studying Mandarin.

In my penultimate year of university I was offered a clerkship with Clifford Chance in Sydney. Over the summer I spent approximately 12 weeks rotating through the various practice groups. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the firm. The people were warm and friendly and gave me interesting legal work – I certainly wasn’t stuck in the photocopy room!! During my clerkship I was impressed with the CSR and pro bono initiatives in the office. I was involved in several pro bono matters during my clerkship as well as being responsible for organising a trivia night fundraiser with the other clerks.

Following my clerkship I was offered a graduate position at Clifford Chance and started in March 2016. As part of the graduate programme I spent six months working in the Tokyo office. I have now completed the graduate programme and settled in the antitrust team, which was one of my four rotations.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

No, to be admitted as a solicitor you must have a law degree. Whether you need a second degree is questionable, however I think it provides diversity and context to the advice you give. Working as a lawyer not only requires you to recite case law and legislation but also requires you to give commercial rounded advice. Awareness of the commercial climate and an understanding of the environment your clients operate in is key to success.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I like that my job challenges me, we do different work and are asked to solve difficult problems. Investigations require a high degree of critical thinking and questioning to solve or understand the problem. I enjoy providing legal advice and looking for a way to solve problems. I also love my job as I work with a range of interesting people from all around the world.

What are the limitations of your job?

Working as a lawyer can be demanding, clients expect work to be done quickly and regulators set tight timelines. At times the hours worked can be long, however this is usually counter balanced by quieter periods.

Pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Believe in yourself and focus on what you are doing and achieving. Other people might seem like they have it all together but often it’s a different story underneath.
  • Try something new. You might think something isn’t for you but you won't know until you try it. I was sceptical about being a commercial lawyer, I undertook a clerkship and loved it!