Volume 1, Issue 8 (Originally Published 23 April 2012)
Name: Rudi Kruse
Firm: Minter Ellison
Graduating year: 2011
Prior to studying law, Rudi completed a Science/Arts degree in psychology and philosophy. Rudi’s choice not to study law at an undergraduate level was that law “was completely off my radar” and he was more interested in becoming a psychologist, which, with study, he discovered was not exactly what he wanted to do. Going into the post-law degree world, Rudi is able to apply the different perspectives he gained in studying non-law subjects to his work on a daily basis. It is also one of the things that he promotes as a positive aspect of JD students studying law even if it wasn’t always their life’s ambitions.
The drawback to not having law as your life’s ambition and pursuing the JD is that there is “quite a lot of pressure” and a condensed time available to engage in law-related work outside of your coursework. Rudi challenged himself with extra-curricular activities of first competing in and then coaching the WTO Moot, a constitutional law moot, and being the first non-LLB MULR editor. He balanced these activities with his core course requirements by taking 3 courses per semester in his later years and turning many of his extra-curricular activities into courses provided by the law school, as well as extending his WTO researching into part of his research project.
Working at Minters
Rudi snagged a clerkship at Minters. He informed me that even in his year there was not a huge amount of success for applicants to clerkships. Rudi clearly has some techniques he uses in an interview, which many the savvy law student can apply, include “promoting your different background” and “promoting writing and research skills gained especially in the Melbourne degree where you have to write essays at some point, rather than just exam writing”.
As Rudi noted “once you get a clerkship you’re on your way into the commercial world”. And Rudi is in that world now, completing the final rotation in three six-month rotations. Rudi’s first rotation in Commercial Disputes (aka litigation) is his favourite, allowing him to do “‘real’ law in a commercial environment”. Commercial Disputes is also most similar to his favourite pursuits in law school, “research, always pushing the law to its limit”. The other two rotations were competition and regulatory law, and, currently, taxation law.
One of things Rudi likes about working at Minters is that he works in a diverse practice group. He distinguishes this from some other firms where you work in an area of law, but “you’re attached to a partner”. Working for a whole practice group is nice because you get to work with a greater variety of people, both partners and peers.
Another great thing about Minters, which Alumni Paula O’Brian and Arlen Duke have also mentioned, is their flexibility in working hours. Rudi has a 12+ month-old daughter and Minters has been great for “having excellent hours and providing support with the family” including allowing him to leave at 5:30 almost every day, and offering him the option of working 4 days a week.
That being said, Rudi’s not a slacker. “I work hard when I’m here,” he says. Emphasising that for him, the technique he uses is “to present yourself through your work”. The bottom line is that good work gets recognised.
The most challenging thing about working at Minters is “being a junior, junior in a large firm”. In other words, there is always someone more senior than you and, when there is “crap work”, more often than not, it falls on you. But Rudi nevertheless emphasises that he feels Minters is well organised in this respect and that, on the whole, he has been given real work, and interesting work, from day one.
In another 5 years, where will you be?
Rudi definitely has a stance of flexibility in his approach to progressing through his career. He considers the opportunities that arise through the lens of his family life. He successfully applied for a High Court Associate position for 2013. Originally this position was going to take him and his family to Canberra, but circumstances arose that meant his daughter and his wife, who is completing a degree in Medicine at Melbourne Uni, could not join him. Fortunately after describing the circumstance and receiving some the best advice he’s ever received (that, “However important the work you are doing, your family is always more important”), he received an offer to work at the High Court based out of Melbourne, starting in 2014. It is at that point that I learned that High Court Justices have two Associates, generally with one who stays in Canberra, and one who stays at the Justice’s home chambers and travels to Canberra when the court is sitting.