Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

Graduating law is ‘the proudest achievement of my life’

One lawyer shares her story of hardship and the incredible perseverance, resilience and respect for the legal industry that drove her to complete her qualification. 

user iconJess Feyder 23 January 2023 Careers
expand image

Recently on the Protégé Podcast, Rebecca Bishop, Elite Building Services co-founder and self-proclaimed Office Goddess and R U OK? Day community ambassador, shared her story.

Ms Bishop delved into the hardship she faced when she had a car accident that resulted in life-altering disabilities, her perseverance to complete her law degree, and the mindset that brought her to her goal. 

Several years into legal work and one year into her law degree, Ms Bishop suffered from a serious car accident that resulted in a brain injury and other physical impairments.


Ms Bishop struggled emotionally from the accident. “Psychologically, it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with, and I still deal with it today,” she said.

She struggled with anxiety, PTSD, and depression, as well as agoraphobia; she feared leaving the house for months. Her studies had halted. 

When she returned to study, the exceptional confidence and competence she felt had gone — her brain didn’t function the same.

Before the accident, she had “never even opened up a book but could say, ‘I’m amazing at the law, I love it, it’s ingrained in my body’.” 

After the accident, comprehending information took her three times longer.

Despite this challenge, Ms Bishop felt a strong drive to complete her legal qualification. 

She began studying full-time, and when she had trouble sleeping because of her injuries, she would study through the night. 

“I was a long way off, and it was a bloody long journey — it was so hard. I can’t even put into words how hard it was,” Ms Bishop said. 

The most important thing, “which is something I’ve learned very slowly, is reaching out and having a support network and asking for help, asking for assistance.

“Us lawyer types, we like to do it all, we can do it all ourselves, we’re independent, don’t need anybody else. And it’s not true.

“You just have to accept help, which is probably the hardest thing to do is admit that you need it, especially our personality types, admitting that you need help and accepting it when it’s offered,” she said. 

Ms Bishop completed her degree, and when she sent through her PLT application, she had to divulge her brain injury, her anxiety and mental health issues, and she thought, “there’s no way they’re going to accept me as a fit and proper person, so what’s the point?

“I remember the moment when I got the email from the PLT people, and they said, ‘You have been accepted as a fit and proper person.’ And I actually fell to my knees and bawled my eyes out.

“1,000 per cent, it’s the proudest achievement of my life,” said Ms Bishop.

“When I sat in the Supreme Court and the judge was talking in the admissions ceremony, I was crying the whole time, the amount of pride that I have, because I nearly gave up so many times, this is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, and I think it is for a lot of people in a normal situation.”

Ms Bishop discussed why the qualification was so important for her: “It’s not just the law for me.

“I feel like being part of a community and supporting and giving back to your community is so important. Having the skills of being a lawyer is such a benefit, and it’s such an important role. 

“Lawyers are a vital part of our society,” she said. 

“I’ve found now, with the community that I’m involved in and the people that I’m connected with, that the majority of those lawyers, they lead with empathy.

“I think that’s so important,” she continued, “because people need to feel like they’re important, whether you’re doing their will, whether you’re doing their conveying, they don’t just need to have their paperwork done, they need to feel like they’re important and they are. 

“That’s a new skill that’s come into our industry that I’m super grateful for — lawyers leading with empathy.”

She gave some final words of advice: “Just never give up. It’s so important to believe in yourself.

“When you think that you can’t do it, you think back, and you think, ‘I’ve overcome so much already’.”

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