AMA - I’m a lawyer working in a commercial law firm (1 Viewer)

RivalryofTroll

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Hi All

Congratulations to the HSC Class of 2022 on finishing your exams!

Some of you may be interested in pursuing a law degree at university and perhaps even becoming a lawyer one day. Want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth about what that might look like?

By way of background, I’m a junior lawyer currently working in a large commercial law firm. My area of practice is dispute resolution/litigation.

AMA.

- RivalryofTroll
 

Nezuko----

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Hi!! I actually have a few questions (sorry!)
1) Is there any job opportunities for the first year or is that more second year+?
2) Are there things I should do to stand out for internships and clerkships?
3) Tips for first year law? workload tips and such?
Thanks!
 

idkkdi

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Hi!! I actually have a few questions (sorry!)
1) Is there any job opportunities for the first year or is that more second year+?
2) Are there things I should do to stand out for internships and clerkships?
3) Tips for first year law? workload tips and such?
Thanks!
curious why u took eng standard if ur going to do law lol
 

Nezuko----

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curious why u took eng standard if ur going to do law lol
yeah, lol, year 11 me underestimated my potential (sounds egotistical), plus side i got early entry into law for uts, unsw and usyd so... lol
 

RivalryofTroll

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Hi!! I actually have a few questions (sorry!)
1) Is there any job opportunities for the first year or is that more second year+?
2) Are there things I should do to stand out for internships and clerkships?
3) Tips for first year law? workload tips and such?
Thanks!
No problem. I will provide some high-level answers first and, if you need more specific detail, please feel free to ask further questions.

1. Job opportunities - Generally, I would say there are fewer legal job opportunities in your early years of law school. Assuming, for example, you are doing a combined law degree of five years, legal job opportunities tend to pop up in your second/third/fourth years. However, it doesn't hurt to start researching opportunities (whether it's paralegal jobs, volunteering opportunities at community legal centres, etc) from the get-go.

Even if you can't find legal job opportunities initially, I would recommend getting any form of work experience (e.g. retail) on your resume because that will give you something to talk about in interviews later down the track.

2. Clerkships/internships - I would say that there are a few key areas that you should consider when building your "resume" in the next few years prior to your penultimate year (during which you will apply for summer clerkships or internships):
(1) Marks. As much as I hate to say it, I would say that marks are the most important thing when it comes to applying for law firms (even if marks are not everything). A distinction average (75+) tends to be competitive for summer clerkships. The higher, the better.
(2) Legal experience. This includes paralegal positions, volunteering at a community legal centre, being a research assistant for a barrister, etc.
(3) Non-legal experience. Any non-legal work experience will also be valuable. If you want to work at a commercial law firm, something which law firms look for is "business acumen" or "commercial awareness" and that can be developed through working in other types of businesses.
(4) Extracurriculars/volunteering. This includes student clubs/societies (where you can develop leadership and team skills for example), competitions/hackathons, etc. There will be a Law Student Society at your law school but you might want to explore other interests when it comes to student clubs. As a first year, consider joining a subcommittee of a club and then working your way up to a leadership position in that club (e.g. a director, vice president, president, etc).

3. First year of law school - Assuming you are doing a combined law degree, you'll probably be doing 1 law subject and 3 non-law subjects in the first two semesters. As you progress, you'll start doing more law subjects each semester (eg in your second year, you could expect to do 2 law subjects per semester). The first law course you'll do is a foundations/introductory course which will equip you with the basic skills (eg legal research, referencing, how to do "problem questions", etc.) for the remainder of your degree.

My main tip is to learn how to tackle note-taking, exam preparation and assessment/exam questions (in particular, for the two styles of questions - "problem questions" and "essay questions") in your first year. If you go to a law school with open-book exams in particular, it would be useful to see how past students have structured their exam notes.
 

idkkdi

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Hi!! I actually have a few questions (sorry!)
1) Is there any job opportunities for the first year or is that more second year+?
2) Are there things I should do to stand out for internships and clerkships?
3) Tips for first year law? workload tips and such?
Thanks!
1) first year professional job u need connections usually.
3) i think they cover like 600 pages per term per law course.
 

idkkdi

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Hi All

Congratulations to the HSC Class of 2022 on finishing your exams!

Some of you may be interested in pursuing a law degree at university and perhaps even becoming a lawyer one day. Want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth about what that might look like?

By way of background, I’m a junior lawyer currently working in a large commercial law firm. My area of practice is dispute resolution/litigation.

AMA.

- RivalryofTroll
is there any way that you can spill about compensation packages haha? it seems that legal compensation only spikes when you make partner?
 

RivalryofTroll

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1) first year professional job u need connections usually.
3) i think they cover like 600 pages per term per law course.
Regarding the first point, I would say that, if you want a legal job in your first year (where these positions are definitely on the rarer side), connections will help. E.g. Someone's uncle owns a small law firm, and that person gets a paralegal job there.

Regarding the second point, a tip I have is that when reading case law, there are probably better ways than reading the decision from start to finish. For example, a popular way of "reading" cases is to get the key ratio/principle of the case and a summary of the facts and the decision (eg by looking at past students' notes or a summary of the case on the internet) to understand the case at a high level before diving into the whole decision in your textbook.
 

RivalryofTroll

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enoilgam

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Hi All

Congratulations to the HSC Class of 2022 on finishing your exams!

Some of you may be interested in pursuing a law degree at university and perhaps even becoming a lawyer one day. Want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth about what that might look like?

By way of background, I’m a junior lawyer currently working in a large commercial law firm. My area of practice is dispute resolution/litigation.

AMA.

- RivalryofTroll
Long time no see man, good to see you back. I did a sneaky LinkedIn stalk and looks like you are killing it.
 

enoilgam

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What does the salary progression for a lawyer tend to be like?
I wont jump in too much, but my mate is a commercial lawyer at a mid-tier firm and honestly his first year salary was terrible compared to mine. About four years after graduating he was a Senior Associate and he was making double what I was making.
 

RivalryofTroll

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Long time no see man, good to see you back. I did a sneaky LinkedIn stalk and looks like you are killing it.
Likewise, good to see that you are still around after all this time.

I'd say I have definitely done well for myself but "killing it" is an overstatement. I ain't on deswa's level :p
 

RivalryofTroll

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I wont jump in too much, but my mate is a commercial lawyer at a mid-tier firm and honestly his first year salary was terrible compared to mine. About four years after graduating he was a Senior Associate and he was making double what I was making.
I've probably heard of instances where a lawyer's salary has more than doubled or has nearly tripled after 4-5 years (e.g. graduate lawyer at a mid-tier and then making senior associate in 4-5 years at a top tier).

When I search for the average salary of a lawyer it is around ~90k, but this report has much higher numbers, why is that?
The average salary of a lawyer in Sydney or in Australia (as you might find on Indeed for example) is probably taking into account lawyers of all kinds (e.g. from those working in criminal law to corporate law, from those working in suburban firms to large commercial law firms, from those working in the public sector to the private sector, from those working in house to those working in private practice).

Recruitment agencies tend to report the salary data of private practice lawyers working in top-tier, mid-tier and boutique commercial law firms where the salaries tend to be higher than that of other lawyers.
 

thr@

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damn i remember reading your selective guide thread back in year 6 😭 thanks for being a continual mentor on here. Here's my question:

I'm thinking of doing law but I don't really know what i want to do with the degree. I'm thinking of doing something that will ultimately help the public, perhaps a job working in the public service or public interest groups as a policy analyst. But i've also heard that while many law students might begin their studies thinking this way, they sort of end up disillusioned and eventually work in the more traditional fields of commercial and business law (which i presume have higher pay). Have you seen instances like this occurring? What's your advice for prospective law students who want to work for the government/NGOs but also want to live somewhat comfortably and not have crippling debt forever.

Speaking of crippling debt, I've heard that many policy analyst positions in the government don't actually require a law degree. Some have suggested that I just do a single undergrad degree in say arts or social sciences and just seek out those positions that way, rather than doing the longer and more expensive law double degree. Do you see this as a viable pathway? Do you know whether graduates with a combined law degree would be favourably selected for a position like this among a candidate pool holding just a single arts degrees?
 
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idkkdi

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damn i remember reading your selective guide thread back in year 6 😭 thanks for being a continual mentor on here. Here's my question:

I'm thinking of doing law but I don't really know what i want to do with the degree. I'm thinking of doing something that will ultimately help the public, perhaps a job working in the public service or public interest groups as a policy analyst. But i've also heard that while many law students might begin their studies thinking this way, they sort of end up disillusioned and eventually work in the more traditional fields of commercial and business law (which i presume have higher pay). Have you seen instances like this occurring? What's your advice for prospective law students who want to work for the government/NGOs but also want to live somewhat comfortably and not have crippling debt forever.

Speaking of crippling debt, I've heard that many policy analyst positions in the government don't actually require a law degree. Some have suggested that I just do a single undergrad degree in say arts or social sciences and just seek out those positions that way, rather than doing the longer and more expensive law double degree. Do you see this as a viable pathway? Do you know whether graduates with a combined law degree would be favourably selected for a position like this among a candidate pool holding just a single arts degrees?
crippling debt is an american thing. u got hecs in aus
 

RivalryofTroll

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damn i remember reading your selective guide thread back in year 6 😭 thanks for being a continual mentor on here. Here's my question:

I'm thinking of doing law but I don't really know what i want to do with the degree. I'm thinking of doing something that will ultimately help the public, perhaps a job working in the public service or public interest groups as a policy analyst. But i've also heard that while many law students might begin their studies thinking this way, they sort of end up disillusioned and eventually work in the more traditional fields of commercial and business law (which i presume have higher pay). Have you seen instances like this occurring? What's your advice for prospective law students who want to work for the government/NGOs but also want to live somewhat comfortably and not have crippling debt forever.

Speaking of crippling debt, I've heard that many policy analyst positions in the government don't actually require a law degree. Some have suggested that I just do a single undergrad degree in say arts or social sciences and just seek out those positions that way, rather than doing the longer and more expensive law double degree. Do you see this as a viable pathway? Do you know whether graduates with a combined law degree would be favourably selected for a position like this among a candidate pool holding just a single arts degrees?
First of all, it’s perfectly normal to know you want to do a law degree but not really know what to do with it. When I first chose to do a combined law degree (as I knew I didn’t want to do a single degree), I only saw law as the “supplementary” degree and wasn’t always dead set on becoming a lawyer. Over time, that only changed when I started to get some work experience.

Public service and policy roles are definitely popular paths for law students who aren’t too interested in pursuing the traditional private practice path. However, you have correctly noted that you don’t necessarily need a law degree to get those roles. That said, arguably a law degree makes you more attractive for these roles - at least on paper.

Public sector roles aren’t my forte so I will defer to others but what I will say is that:
(1) Your interests might change during the course of university. You can only make an informed decisions about your career when you’re informed (and that normally only happens over time and not at the start of your degree).
(2) This is not America where doing law will leave you in crippling debt eg $300k debt (and so you’re forced to do “BigLaw”).
(3) Public sector and policy roles can actually pay well (and sometimes better than their private practice counterparts) at the beginning. Of course, over time, a top or mid tier corporate lawyer will likely have greater earning potential but having the highest salary possible shouldn’t be everything when you’re making important career choices.
(4) Getting public sector roles can be quite competitive due to the limited amount of roles.
(5) Don’t be distracted by what your peers want and what they think is the right path. I feel that most people get sucked into the “corporate law” vortex due to the influence of their peers.
(6) In relation to whether you should do Arts or Arts/Law, I think there’s no wrong or right choice there. If you want to get a feel for the type of people in policy roles for example, I would suggest doing a search on LinkedIn to get a better idea of the type of people who land those roles.
 

mmmmmmmmaaaaaaa

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Is it still sensible to pursue a combined law degree if you see law as a means of “opening up your options” and aren’t necessarily interested in going into the lawyer path (although my interests may change)?

I do understand that double law degrees are pretty strong and it will definitely help me in the career I want to pursue (and act as a means of separating me from the rest)

I hope that question makes sense.
 

thr@

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crippling debt is an american thing. u got hecs in aus
I'm aware of hecs, but like i still need to pay this back over time. The significant hikes in costs for both law and arts degrees in aus recently makes it more daunting to pursue this degree if i need to spend years just repaying the loan :(
 

thr@

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First of all, it’s perfectly normal to know you want to do a law degree but not really know what to do with it. When I first chose to do a combined law degree (as I knew I didn’t want to do a single degree), I only saw law as the “supplementary” degree and wasn’t always dead set on becoming a lawyer. Over time, that only changed when I started to get some work experience.

Public service and policy roles are definitely popular paths for law students who aren’t too interested in pursuing the traditional private practice path. However, you have correctly noted that you don’t necessarily need a law degree to get those roles. That said, arguably a law degree makes you more attractive for these roles - at least on paper.

Public sector roles aren’t my forte so I will defer to others but what I will say is that:
(1) Your interests might change during the course of university. You can only make an informed decisions about your career when you’re informed (and that normally only happens over time and not at the start of your degree).
(2) This is not America where doing law will leave you in crippling debt eg $300k debt (and so you’re forced to do “BigLaw”).
(3) Public sector and policy roles can actually pay well (and sometimes better than their private practice counterparts) at the beginning. Of course, over time, a top or mid tier corporate lawyer will likely have greater earning potential but having the highest salary possible shouldn’t be everything when you’re making important career choices.
(4) Getting public sector roles can be quite competitive due to the limited amount of roles.
(5) Don’t be distracted by what your peers want and what they think is the right path. I feel that most people get sucked into the “corporate law” vortex due to the influence of their peers.
(6) In relation to whether you should do Arts or Arts/Law, I think there’s no wrong or right choice there. If you want to get a feel for the type of people in policy roles for example, I would suggest doing a search on LinkedIn to get a better idea of the type of people who land those roles.
Thanks for your insight! I'll keep an open mind going in
 

idkkdi

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I'm aware of hecs, but like i still need to pay this back over time. The significant hikes in costs for both law and arts degrees in aus recently makes it more daunting to pursue this degree if i need to spend years just repaying the loan :(
.
ato calculates it for u. a law degree on top of arts is like an extra 60k maybe?

hecs is the best loan u'll get in ur life. dont worry about it. in fact ur making money on a hecs loan since its rate is lower than inflation.
 
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