Celia Murray offers an insight into what it’s like starting your career at a top-tier firm
Working as a graduate lawyer at Mallesons Stephen Jaques has involved hard work and a steep learning curve but I have enjoyed my first 12 months with the firm. Apart from broadening my legal knowledge and analytical skills and developing practical legal skills, I have made many friends at work.
What I have appreciated most about the graduate lawyer program is the support network. Graduates at Mallesons are assigned to specific practice teams. Within that team you are assigned to a partner who is the first point of call for receiving work. You also get a mentor, who is able to help with any problems. Graduates are not expected to already know how to draft legal documents and manage files, or to be able to regurgitate everything learned at university. A willingness to learn and some sound research skills are all that is expected.
Everyone understood that I had no previous experience of working in a law firm and so were more than happy to help me find my way around. The senior lawyers, although extremely busy themselves, make it a priority to explain complex issues and provide insight into the “big picture”.
I have worked on large and small transactions. The large transactions have been particularly beneficial to me because, although as a graduate my role was relatively small, I was immediately included as part of the team. Without feeling like a burden, I could see how the more experienced solicitors operated. Being a part of the overall transaction allowed me to see how these deals are conducted, the issues that arise, and how teams need to work together to meet deadlines. This has made working on smaller transactions, in which I have more responsibility, far less daunting. My hours in the office vary depending on the matter but there is never an expectation that lawyers will work back late if matters are not urgent.
Life as a graduate lawyer at Mallesons has proved challenging, but has definitely been a lot of fun.