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The importance of trial and error to find your ideal career path

The legal profession offers diverse career paths with abundant opportunities and varied work environments. To navigate this expansive world, one final-year law student stresses the importance of experimentation for next-generation practitioners.

user iconGrace Robbie 29 April 2024 Big Law
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Jonah Farry is a final-year law student at the Queensland University of Technology and a law clerk for Brisbane-based law firm HopgoodGanim Lawyers. He is also the co-founder and executive of QUT’s Law Innovation and Technology Society.

Speaking in a recent episode of The Protégé Podcast, he discussed the importance of trial and error when coming through the ranks to determine what area of law they want to specialise in by referring to his own experience.

Due to the diversity of the legal space and the ample opportunities presented within it, Farry emphasised the importance of lawyers “remaining open-minded and embodying [the] phrase [of] trial and error” earlier in their careers.


Farry specifically identified how important it is for law students to attain this mindset by underscoring that “anyone who goes into studying a law degree and thinks that the area that they’re the most interested in will remain so will most likely be wrong”.

To ensure that undergraduates address this, Farry encouraged students to “try as many things as you can and fail at as many things as you can”.

Farry spoke from experience as he discovered the importance of branching out while working at his first law firm.

“I went to a small commercial litigation firm with the idea that I was just going to [work] in corporate. I was that quintessential undergraduate. That was like, I just want to be a corporate lawyer, and that’s all I want to worry about. And that probably stemmed from my disgusting affliction [of] watching suits over and over again.

“But once I started working in commercial litigation, I appreciated that there’s such a variety of cases that you will end up having to work on, and the idea of just sitting in one subject or one practice area started to seem a little bit self-limiting,” Farry commented.

He also touched on his experience working at a national personal injury law firm. Although this was not a field of law he wanted to pursue, he took this opportunity as a knowledgeable experience.

“I went there and was exposed to that area of practice as an undergraduate, albeit, and immediately knew that wasn’t for me, that wasn’t something that I was super passionate about.

“I took that as a massive positive because that’s something that I was able to rule out, and I was able to narrow my scope of areas that I am passionate about and that I want to spend an extended period of time working in,” Farry stated.

As a law student and a future lawyer, Farry outlined how gaining these workplace experiences in such different scopes of the legal system has been “rewarding on numerous levels”.

Farry commented: “First and foremost, I’d say on an intellectual level, I get to experience a lot of different things because I have put myself out there in different roles and [been] involved with different things.

“I’m not limiting myself to the same areas of conversation, constantly sort of trying to expand my knowledge.”

He also acknowledged how gaining experience in such different scopes of the legal system has been beneficial on a “professional level” and has provided him with “confidence” that one wouldn’t be able to gain at university.

Farry offered advice on the best ways individuals can find these different vocational opportunities, recommending that law students in their final year “take the clerkship route”.

However, he expressed that before attaining these opportunities, the most efficient way to trial and error is “to send an email, call firms, be a pest, whatever way you can get in touch with [individuals]”.

Farry stated: “Just find a way to get involved because, as I said before, it will compound, and then you will end up working wherever it is that you want to work.”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Jonah Farry, click below: