Why did you want to work for Clayton Utz?
When I was studying at university, I always enjoyed administrative and government law, and I wanted to work in Canberra. I heard some great things from people who had applied to Clayton Utz, including that they had a great pro bono program. Also, their values seemed to align with my beliefs.
How did you stand out during the application process?
There is not enough recognition that applying for jobs is a skill. You have to think of it as a full-time job. So before the interview I practised what I was going to say and thought of questions to ask – so it wasn’t intimidating and felt like more of a conversation. I was relaxed and I was myself.
What do you do?
For the last 10 months I was in a corporate area which specialised in government procurement, so my day-to-day work involved reviewing contracts, documents and requests for tender. Now, I am on my second rotation, which is in litigation. It involves a lot of research, compiling briefs and preparing court documents, which is all pretty new to me and quite different from my first rotation.
What are the best things about the job?
The work is extremely interesting, especially in the litigation rotation. It is exactly as I hoped it was going to be. Also, the people here are excellent – really good to work with and for. It is a good environment to work in and everyone is supportive. Of course the hours can be quite long but if you’re working with people you enjoy working with, it’s not bad. Another adjustment was getting my head around recording time – something that didn’t come naturally at first.
The pro bono work we do is rewarding as well. We are required to do 35 hours a year, but most people in this office do double that amount. We do things such as run Indigenous homework centres, raise money for various charities and do secondments to community legal centres.
What are some key skills for the job?
The most important skill is being able to work well with people. I learnt this while working at the many jobs I had during through uni, including negotiating and trying to upward manage. Having good time-management and good organisational skills are also key and being open to feedback on your work.
What is the office environment like?
Because it is a smaller than somewhere like Sydney – we only about 80 people as opposed to a couple of hundred – I know everyone in the office. There’s a really active social committee and frequent Friday drinks sessions. The fundraising events we hold also offer social opportunities.
Any tips for current students?
Enjoy your time as a student and try not to worry about what will happen when it's time to look for a job.
I would also encourage students to apply even when they think the prospects of getting the job aren't high. There is no harm in giving it a go, and you may be surprised how well it turns out – I definitely was. Even if it doesn't work out, it will provide good experience of how to do it better next time.