Young lawyers should gain experience in a variety of different areas of law and accept that making mistakes is all a part of gaining necessary experience, according to the president of the NSW Law Society.
Stuart Westgarth says it is not always easy for young lawyers at the beginning of their career to understand what they enjoy and what they are good at.
"My advice would be to not to get too pigeonholed or drawn into a line of experience that's too narrow. Give yourself an opportunity to see different things and then reflect on what it is that you liked or didn't like about those things," he says.
A practising lawyer since 1975, Westgarth has echoed this in his own career. Starting out in commercial law and conveyancing, he quickly developed an interest in maritime law which led him to practice in London for a year, and later on, in the pacific island nation of Kiribati.
He has also worked in the United States and says he has particularly fond memories of his experience in the Federal Court of
He now specialises in banking and finance litigation and heads HWL Ebsworth's national litigation group, in between leading the NSW Law Society on a number of pressing issues in the legal profession in his role as president.
By trying their hand at a variety of different things, Westgarth says young lawyers can get a better idea of their own likes and skills.
"A bit later on [in their career] young lawyers should start to make more firm decision as to the direction of their career," says Westgarth.
"Along the way you make mistakes but mistakes in that context are often beneficial because they equal experience."
Click here to read 'Keeping it in the family' - a snapshot of Stuart Westgarth's life in law.