TWENTY-SIX year-old Cath Devine grew up in Melbourne and studied law at Monash University. Devine always planned to work in a country firm and in November 2000, she commenced her articles in Hastings at a firm called David Gibbs & Associates.
In landing her articles role, Devine completely bypassed the traditional application process and instead wrote to about 50 country law firms. She ended up with three interviews and chose the Hastings firm because it was a short 45-minute motorbike ride from her Dandenong home.
The Hastings firm was a completely general practice and Devine says she had the opportunity to work on a large variety of matters. “The highlight of my articles year was instructing on a five-day family law trial that nearly went on appeal,” she says.
At the completion of her articles, Devine moved to Shepparton to take up a position with local firm Faram Ritchie Davies.
In her current role, Devine has an average of two days a week in court and spends about 60 per cent of her time on family law matters with the remainder being shared between criminal law, general litigation and victims of crime matters.
“I love the variety. It is a much better experience here than in Melbourne,” she says.
Devine is currently on part-time maternity leave and works two to three days each week in the office while her three-and-a-half month old son sits in his pram in the corner.
They all appreciate the importance of family and a healthy work-life balance, she says. “The country is a brilliant place to live and you don’t work ridiculous hours. There is an expectation of a certain level of work, but you don’t have the high pressure on billable hours.”
“If I’m here in the office at 5.30, I’d be one of the last people, if not the last person, in the office.”
Devine’s country advocacy experience has made her a master in the court room this year her team won the Hanover Mooting Competition and she beat all the city slickers to win the best advocate award.