What's your job about?
I help government clients and not-for-profit organisations with complex advisory matters in the health, disability and education sectors. This means that I advise clients on their legal obligations, which can involve interpreting legislation and court decisions. While this may sound dull, I love the analytical and problem solving aspects of my role as well as the strong focus on human rights and the opportunity to improve outcomes for vulnerable people like children and persons with a disability. I also assist senior lawyers with research support, help draft policy guidance and review or develop an organisation’s policies and procedures.
What's your background?
I went to a public high school in Melbourne and despite being the school debating champion and getting top marks, rebelled against my parents, who wanted their daughter to become a lawyer. Instead, I enrolled in media studies, intending to pursue a career in political journalism. However, I was soon disillusioned by the decline of investigative journalism and after a year transferred into a social science degree majoring in public policy. After graduating, I felt ill-equipped to work in policy development without ‘on the ground’ experience and landed a job in community mental health where I spent almost 4 years as a counsellor and case manager helping young people rebuild their lives in the aftermath of a severe psychiatric diagnosis.
Despite finding this work deeply rewarding and challenging I was persuaded to make a drastic career change: I co-founded several business enterprises in the wellness industry, including a yoga studio which I subsequently ran for 10 years. After the birth of my first child, I became a childbirth educator, assisting new parents to navigate the health care system and advocate for their rights.
Eighteen months into a PhD in social and political sciences and with a second baby, I finally acknowledged my longstanding regret at not pursuing a career in law. Realising that it was ‘now or never’, that very month I applied for the JD. My journey with RK began when I was offered an open-market graduate position. Since completing the grad program, I settled in the public law team, where I have been for almost four months. Throughout my diverse and unconventional professional career, I have always pursued my passions but when I started my legal career, I knew I had finally found my calling.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
While my professional background in mental health and the non-government sector has proved beneficial in my role, it is hardly a prerequisite. My colleagues have extensive experience as government lawyers, which is of course a massive advantage, but any career background is advantageous in law. It can give you invaluable insight into different industries, business acumen, practical life skills and people skills. That being said, having an analytical mind and a humble, collaborative approach goes a long way.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
In addition to the analytical and problem solving aspects of my role and the opportunity to do meaningful work in sectors that truly matter, I love the intellectual challenge of statutory interpretation and administrative law that the public law team offers. I also consider myself very fortunate to have the best boss and to work in a team of exceptionally brilliant and highly experienced female lawyers whose mentorship and support is invaluable to my professional development and makes for a wonderful work environment.
What are the limitations of your job?
Law is not a 9 to 5 job and the workload can be taxing, especially if you have family responsibilities. The pay for junior lawyers is also very modest and climbing the corporate ladder is a long road so it’s important to manage your expectations of your financial earnings.
To be happy in law, you have to love the law – to get a thrill out of reading a High Court judgment or new piece of legislation or negotiating a deal, as pursuit of money and prestige will likely leave you burnt out and disappointed.
It’s easy to be intimidated by all the brilliant lawyers around you, so I have to regularly remind myself of my unique talents and qualities. We all have something valuable to contribute and no one is great at everything.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...