Erin completed a Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Laws (with Honours) at Monash University. She clerked at Gilbert + Tobin in the Technology + Digital team in December 2018 and returned as a paralegal in February 2019. She is currently in her first rotation in the Corporate Advisory team.
My role at Gilbert + Tobin has shifted several times: between clerk, paralegal and now graduate, I have been exposed to a range of different people and opportunities.
What I love most about working at Gilbert + Tobin is the amount of responsibility and matter involvement you have from the get-go. Even on my first day as a paralegal, I was already asked to help with a fascinating IT contracting dispute, getting across the matter and discussing with the partner what the likely plan of attack was. I’m pleased to say this has translated into my role as a graduate, even in an entirely different team!
I thought I’d take you through what my day-to-day life is like working as a graduate at Gilbert + Tobin. Below is an outline of one of my first few days in the Corporate Advisory team (before we transitioned to working from home). From the outset, I already got a sense of the excitement and energy inside one of the best Corporate teams in Australia.
What is a day like in the Corporate Advisory team?
I get off the tram and make my way into the office. I’m not a huge morning person, so I’m not about to write on how I woke up with the sun and went for an hour-long run. One can dream!
I get to my desk, say hi to everyone and log in to check my emails. One of the senior lawyers has responded to a research task on funds that I completed for her yesterday. I’m copied into all the client correspondence so I can see how the matter is going. The client has asked us to look more into a particular point of my research. We have a team meeting this morning, so I quickly respond to the lawyer, asking if we can chat afterwards.
We have the M+A team meeting this morning. Bonus is that breakfast and coffee are provided. This is a weekly check-in we have with each other, to see what everyone is working on and how they are going in terms of capacity. The team is conscious of spreading work around, so nobody is too overloaded and everyone can be exposed to different matters.
As a grad, this is also a great opportunity to learn about the various matters that you might want to work on. A special counsel in the team mentions that she’s working on the acquisition of a company that develops face-matching technology. She has seen some potential privacy issues in the initial review of the company that our client wants to acquire (what is known as ‘due diligence’). This is definitely something I’m interested in, so I make a note to ask her if I can help out.
The meeting ends and I catch up with the lawyer who gave me the research task. She gives me some feedback on my initial research. The lawyers that I’ve worked with are very good at giving constructive feedback and explaining complicated concepts, so I can understand where I could have improved with a better understanding of the topic. Even in my first few days, I’ve already had many chats like this with both senior and junior lawyers.
The lawyer emails me some more instructions on the research. I was previously looking into how our client could restructure from a listed investment company to an unlisted fund. I see on the email that the client now wants to restructure into an exchange-traded managed fund. The lawyer asks me to find some examples of other companies that have done this, and what the process is.
I finish summarising my research in an email and send it off to the lawyer. Truthfully, I’m not overly familiar with funds work, so I spent some time looking into the background of it. Fortunately, we have great training material on our document management system! I was worried when I started in the team that I would need to know every aspect of Corporations Law. The lawyers absolutely do not expect you to know everything, but you are expected to be curious, ask questions and give things a go.
It’s lunchtime! I have an awesome grad group, so we go out to lunch together often. Today we’re going for ramen; we’re lucky to work near the best ramen places in the CBD. There’s a lot of chat about the upcoming graduate retreat – every year, one of the partners lets the grad group stay in his beach house in Portsea for a weekend.
I get back from lunch and grab a coffee from the kitchen. You can often find lawyers gathered around, doing the quiz from The Age or talking about the Fantasy Football draft.
Another lawyer comes past my desk and asks if I’ve got capacity to help with a capital raising. She is having a call with the client at 2.00 PM and expects that some preliminary documents will need to be drafted out of it. I’m curious about the exact steps involved in a capital raising, so she explains how it works and the key documents she expects us to prepare.
I sit in on the call with the lawyer and the partner on the matter. They’re discussing the next steps, especially because the way COVID-19 is impacting the market will likely affect how much they can raise. It’s interesting to see how these factors impact commercial decisions and the way the partner relays this to the client.
I'm asked to help draft the first cut of the terms for a Share Purchase Plan for the capital raise. I spend some time looking at examples of these terms and find one that’s similar to the structure of our capital raise to work off.
I email the terms I’ve drafted to the lawyer. My mentor then sends me a message to check how I’m going and what my capacity is like. A big due diligence has come in and we need to turn the draft report around quickly. The partner wants me to be involved, so my mentor briefs me on the deal and asks me to review some company constitutions for key issues.
I’ve made it through most of the constitutions and prepared a draft summary of the issues I’ve found. I check in with my mentor about my progress. The report is due soon but some of the reviews aren’t needed until later tomorrow, so we work out what can wait until then. As a grad, the most important thing is to communicate your workload and progress with the people around you.
Hometime! I’m off to choir rehearsal and later to chill out with my dog.
How has my role changed with working from home?
I’m very fortunate in that my role has remained largely unchanged. I was able to transition out of the office very easily; Gilbert + Tobin has a great program where the firm will send you everything you need to set up a work-from-home station (screen, keyboard, etc).
As for the work I’m doing, due to the uncertainty in the market, the Corporate Advisory team has been particularly affected. While some of the deals I was working on have been postponed, I’m not worried – there is still plenty to get involved in as a graduate, including knowledge work and pro bono tasks. The way I receive work is also virtually the same. I get online messages from lawyers and partners asking if I have the capacity, which is pretty similar to somebody coming past my desk with a task! I have regular video calls with them to discuss the more complex parts of tasks, where I can ask questions freely and gauge how the lawyers are approaching certain matters.
As for the social side of things, the frequency of our meetings has increased, so there’s still a lot of team interaction. The women in the team have a weekly afternoon tea, and the partners are keeping social engagement up with various activities. We have just started a competition (with prizes) to pick which ASX300 company will be the next takeover target. There’s been a lot of interesting discussions and plenty of sledging!