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Clayton Utz

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  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Emil Obaid

The firm's collaborative and cohesive work culture is the ideal environment for me to develop professionally, knowing that I can seek support from my colleagues when work or life becomes challenging.

What did you study at university?

I studied a double degree as an undergraduate student at the University of Technology, Sydney. I completed a bachelor of laws and a bachelor of business, majoring in management.

What made you interested in commercial law?

I have always had a keen interest in law and business, and how each field interacts and complements the other. I discovered during my time in university that I was most interested in law subjects that explored the legal considerations and solutions to complex business problems. This element appealed to my analytical mind, and I always enjoy the challenge of using my understanding of different areas of law to assist the client with a legal query or transaction.

I also wanted to work in a field where I could gain insight into how different companies and industries operate, particularly those that we don't ordinarily place much thought into, despite them impacting us as consumers. Clayton Utz was a natural fit for me because the firm services some of the most interesting companies in Australia (and in fact, the world) with complex dealings across a broad spectrum of industries and markets. In an increasingly globalised world, the international considerations of a matter adds an interesting dynamic to the work we do.

Tell us about your experience so far at Clayton Utz (including what your role is)?

I am a lawyer in the Clayton Utz Graduate Program, which involves rotating in three different practice groups across the firm. My current rotation is with the Intellectual Property & Technology team, and I've previously worked with the Corporate M&A and Capital Markets team.

I obtained the graduate lawyer position by first completing the summer clerkship program, and working as a paralegal in a number of different practice groups across the firm..

As a junior lawyer, we have the opportunity to work closely with some of the brightest lawyers in the profession and get exposure to the type of work the firm undertakes to service our clients. In a transactional team, a junior lawyer would typically be involved in the following tasks (amongst others):

  • negotiating and drafting documents (such as share sale agreements, shareholders' agreements, and board and shareholder resolutions);
  • undertaking research and drafting advice for the client;
  • attending conference calls with clients, the opposing side and other stakeholders (such as government departments or regulators); and
  • undertaking corporate due diligence on M&A transactions.

I have also had the opportunity to partake in various pro bono matters as well as community initiatives. The most memorable moments for me have been helping the Footpath Library hand out books and coffee in Martin Place, and helping to set up a charity that provides mobile medical services to disadvantaged members of our society.

What's one thing you love about your job?

The best part of my job is the people I work with. I have had the fortunate opportunity to work with the leading minds in the profession and be mentored by colleagues who have a genuine interest in my professional development.

The firm's collaborative and cohesive work culture is the ideal environment for me to develop professionally, knowing that I can seek support from my colleagues when work or life becomes challenging.

This has been further reinforced during the pandemic lockdowns over the last two years. In each of my rotations, the supervising partner and team members regularly checked in with each other to maintain morale and camaraderie.

What is the limitation of your job?

One of the main challenges of being a junior lawyer would be the steep learning curve that comes with working in a high pressure environment and taking carriage of the day-to-day tasks of a matter.

Having a direct involvement in the matter means that I often have busy periods which means managing tight deadlines and competing priorities. Although the role is not a typical 9.00 am to 5.00 pm job, the time and responsibility involved have helped accelerate my professional development and skills.

The partners and team are very understanding and offer plenty of support to help manage the workload. The firm also understands that we have personal and family commitments outside of work and encourage flexible working arrangements. This has been accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Broaden your horizon. Use your time at university to explore new opportunities and step out of your comfort zone. If you are interested in joining a university club, partaking in a new sport, travelling overseas, or volunteering for a charity, you should do it!
  2. Maintain a positive attitude. Deciding what type of career path and applying for jobs can be a daunting, and sometimes demoralising, experience. It is important not to take rejection personally and to constantly work on bettering yourself both professionally and personally.
  3. Know your worth. Do not compromise your values, stay true to yourself, and seek comfort in the fact that you will eventually find the right job that aligns with your values and ambitions.