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Be who you want to be

Be who you want to be

Just because your marks say you can, it doesn’t mean you have to work in a big-name commercial law firm, says the head of a top-tier firm.“If you don’t think you want to be a commercial…

Just because your marks say you can, it doesn’t mean you have to work in a big-name commercial law firm, says the head of a top-tier firm.

“If you don’t think you want to be a commercial lawyer, don’t think you have to be,” Freehills’ CEO Gavin Bell told Lawyer2B.

At a parents and teachers’ night he was attending recently, Bell said teachers were advising the children to do what they wanted to do, not what their parents and teachers said they should do just to achieve the highest marks, and it struck a chord.

“So my words of advice to law graduates are, do what you are interested in and what you think you would like.

“Just because you are walking out with first-class honours; think about how you want to use it.”

Bell stressed that there is nothing wrong with exploring options if students don’t know what they want to do, and some come to his firm “just to have a look”. But he does see a few graduates every year that think they have to be in a commercial firm, whatever their real interests.

“Certainly my view is they’ve come possibly for the wrong reasons, [and] if they don’t have a genuine interest in business, it is a little unusual to become a business lawyer,” Bell said.

“It might be prestige, because it is good to have Freehills, Allens, or Mallesons et cetera on your CV, [or] it could be money. “If you want to be a commercial lawyer go to a commercial law firm. If that’s not where your interest lies, go where your interest lies. To some it might be in a completely different area of law. So I think it is important to think ahead and think about what you’re interested in.”

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