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Thomson Geer

  • 500 - 1,000 employees

Penny Carter

I have the opportunity to work on both high-volume, fast-paced matters as well as more complex, ongoing disputes, which makes for an ideal learning environment.

What's your job about?

Thomson Geer is a national commercial law firm, which acts for clients operating in a diverse range of industries across Australia and overseas. I am a Law Graduate within the Disputes team of Thomson Geer’s Brisbane office. Our team works in insolvency as well as general commercial litigation. The nature of my work is constantly changing, with a variety of tasks coming across my desk every day. A typical week might involve drafting a court document or two, researching a new area of law to assist me in drafting a letter of advice, and even attending a client meeting with more senior members of my team. I have the opportunity to work on both high-volume, fast-paced matters as well as more complex, ongoing disputes, which makes for an ideal learning environment.

What's your background? 

I was lucky enough to grow up on my family’s beautiful beef cattle property in North Queensland and I attended a small boarding school in Charters Towers, about a two hours' drive away from home. After graduating, I spent a year working on the property, which gave me some great insight into the way the business operates and the challenges that are faced within the industry. Many of my days were spent riding horses or feeding cattle – pretty different to the work I do now!

Following my 12 months on the farm, I moved down to Brisbane to attend QueenslandUniversity, and  lived for three action-packed years at St John’s College. 

After finishing university, I spent two months travelling solo through Chile and Argentina, both of which boast some incredible scenery and very friendly people. Unfortunately, my Spanish skills still leave a lot to be desired! 

At the end of my penultimate year of studies, I worked as a clerk in Thomson Geer’s Intellectual Property team. I was excited to be offered a position as a Law Graduate at the firm, which I have now been working in for around nine months.

Could someone with a different background do your job? 

Definitely! In our profession we deal with a diverse range of clients on a daily basis, so the more diversity there is amongst young lawyers, the better. It helps us to understand the experiences of our clients, to offer new perspectives and to differentiate ourselves. Despite this, there are some skills which I believe are essential for all young lawyers. Problem solving and time management are particularly important. It is also crucial that you are eager to learn and grow, and that you genuinely enjoy a challenge – as there is always something new to learn!

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The Disputes team lends itself to exciting work, with exposure to the litigation process on a daily basis. One of the things I love most about my job is that, by working for a number of partners, I am involved with a variety of matters and am able to learn from each partner’s different approach and perspective. I like the fact that I have new challenges to tackle every day, and I am able to play a part in solving some huge problems for our clients. Luckily, the senior colleagues who I work with are always willing to talk things over, and are more than happy to share their experiences and assist me to learn.  

What are the limitations of your job? 

One of the challenging aspects for me as a new graduate was adjusting to the fact that, no matter what I may have studied at university, there was so much about legal practice which I didn’t know and couldn’t possibly have been prepared for before I started work. There was a lot I needed to learn and, at first, this was overwhelming. However, I soon realised that learning is all part of the experience, and provided you are willing to embrace a challenge and soak up the advice of your colleagues, you can find your feet sooner than you expect. 

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student... 

My biggest piece of advice to 'University Penny' would be to use this stage to try as many different experiences as possible – whether that be to travel abroad, volunteer for a not-for-profit or work in a café. I think it is important not to become too preoccupied with a legal career early on, and to take advantage of this time to explore your other interests. On that note, I would also say to travel lots during the holidays – plenty of time to work later on! Thirdly, I would recommend keeping an open mind and always looking for new opportunities.