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  • 500 - 1,000 employees

Stephanie Manatakis

The world is your oyster, and you can really go anywhere with a law degree. Being an IP lawyer means I can work in private practice or in-house anywhere.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts (English major), a Master of Publishing and Editing and a Master of Laws (Juris Doctor) – all from Monash University. I graduated from the Juris Doctor program in May 2017 and was admitted as an Australian legal practitioner in September 2017. 

Can you tell us a little about your life prior to securing this role?

I grew up in the Bayside area of Melbourne and have lived your typical student life. I was a 'professional uni student' (as my mum says) for ten years. I've been a part of various university student organisations, been to every university party and met so many amazing people along the way. I've been working in retail since I was 17 and have had the opportunity to work with a number of international and national brands from Zara to Topshop and Mecca.

I've interned, volunteered and I have been lucky enough to travel to most parts of the world during my time as a student.

I began my legal career as a graduate lawyer at Gadens in 2018, rotating through the IP&T team in our Corporate Advisory & Tax group, and the Retail team in our Property, Construction & Planning group. I settled in my permanent role as a lawyer in the IP&T team in early March 2019.

How did you choose your specialisation?

I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer, I just took my time getting there. I began my university life with a Bachelor of Arts. Once I graduated, I then faced the inevitable question: ‘Well, what next?’ I loved books and I wasn't ready to start law yet, so I completed my Master of Publishing and Editing and it was during this time I discovered the wonderful world of intellectual property (IP). It was also during this time I knew I wanted to become an IP lawyer. During the Juris Doctor, I researched the IP area quite heavily and questioned what firms I could potentially work at and what area of IP I saw myself working in. I was primarily interested in working in the trade mark area and in my final year I chose electives based on the requirements for registration as a trademark attorney.

What was the Gadens interview process like?

The interview process was as can be expected – intense, nerve-racking and lengthy. 

My initial interview was with two HR representatives. I was asked to walk them through my resume and cover letter – where I studied, what experience I had, what skills I gained through my work life, what my hobbies and interests were etc.

The second round interview was with a partner and HR manager and I found it to be the more conversational and less formal of the two interviews. The partner, in my instance, did more of the talking and wanted to know more about me beyond my university transcript – what could I bring to the firm? I loved baking so naturally, I was asked what my favourite thing to bake and favourite baking show was, what genre of novels I read, and so on. He really tried to build a connection with me as an individual. I was lucky enough to be paired with one of the IP&T partners so a lot of our conversation was centred around being a trade mark attorney and why I wanted to go into intellectual property. Right at the end, he threw a couple of curveballs 'What would you do in this instance?' questions, just to keep me on my toes!

From there, all applicants who were successful in obtaining a second-round interview were invited to an informal cocktail night, which did not comprise part of the interview process. This gave all applicants a chance to meet some of the other partners and chat with current graduates at the firm. 

What does your employer do?

Gadens is one of the leading independent top ten Australian law firms with over 90 partners and 700 staff across our offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. We regularly undertake highly complex and day-to-day transactional legal work for a wide range of clients across multiple industry sectors. Our clients include major Australian and multinational organisations – we are advisors to more than a quarter of the Top 200 companies listed on the ASX – as well as many small to medium-sized businesses, and high-net-worth families and individuals. 

What are your areas of responsibility?

As a lawyer within the IP&T team, I primarily work on intellectual property matters, specifically trademarks; however, the work my team does is quite varied so I am exposed to a variety of work from competition, consumer law and franchising, to estate agency matters.

Can you describe a typical work day?

Is there such a thing as a typical work day? Your work day can consist of anything from teleconferences with clients, drafting trade mark applications or licensing agreements, to writing e-updates on the latest changes to IP&T legislation or a recent decision. 

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

The world is your oyster, and you can really go anywhere with a law degree. Being an IP lawyer means I can work in private practice or in-house anywhere: Universal Music, L'Oreal, Samsung – the possibilities are endless. In terms of career progression in private practice, the next steps from here are associate, senior associate and then potentially special counsel or partner. It's up to you as an individual to set yourself goals and to speak with those around you on how to achieve them.

Could someone with a different background do your job? 

Definitely! I think it helps coming into the IP&T industry with some background in the space, whether that be through your studies or work experience; however, it is not essential – as a junior lawyer you're constantly learning and developing skills. 

What would your career be if you didn’t follow this line of work?

If I wasn't a lawyer I think I'd be a baker. My grandpa was a baker and I would love to have a little baking side business one day.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the culture at Gadens and the people I work with. Having a great team behind you definitely makes coming to work every day and the sometimes long hours much easier. I am also fortunate enough to work in an area that I'm really passionate about and where there is so much development. There's never really a dull moment.

What are its biggest limitations? 

I think like anyone in a non-generalist firm I find the biggest limitation is that you aren't able to work as flexibly across all practice groups and you are essentially specialising from the get go. I'd love the ability to work more with certain teams but ultimately I don't work at a generalist firm and there was a reason for that. 

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

  • Don't compare yourself to those around you; everyone is on their own path. Focus on you and your goals and what you can do to achieve them. 
  • Marks are not the be all and end all. Yes, they are important but being an individual is way more important. Future employers want to know you are well rounded and have hobbies and interests outside of study. 
  • It's all about balance! Make sure you're not spending your life buried in books – you have your whole career ahead of you and plenty of late nights working! So take the time now to enjoy travelling and spending time with your friends and family. Study hard during the day and then take a break at night or vice versa. You won't regret having to study late for a night or two but you will regret missing out on dinners, birthdays and other events.