Volume 1, Issue 12 (Originally Published 21 May 2016)
James graduated Arts-Law in 2009 and started at Corrs Chambers Westgarth. He now works-in house at Australian Unity advising on health insurance law, contract negotiation, corporate governance, ASX Listing rule compliance and trade practices law.
At the start of the degree James was originally interested in labour law but as he progressed through his degree he enjoyed private law and commercially-orientated subjects such as Contracts, Torts, Property, Competition law and Corporations.
After graduation James started at Corrs. He enjoyed working in the Corporate Advisory team at Corrs because the work was intellectually stimulating and practical.
“It was always a thrill to be working on a file, be it a technical problem in an advice or assisting in a large project team on a deal, and then see your work impact on a business.”
It was this thrill of having an impact on a business that led him to work in-house. “In an in-house team, you work directly with the staff of a business to manage the legal affairs of a business. You are involved in the day-to-day of the business. There is also a lot of risk management involved. The work is a lot more varied, faster paced, sometimes less technical and a lot more practical.”
Has working in law met the expectations he had at law school?
“I had expectations that the hours would be long and the work would be challenging. Those expectations were met...What did surprise me, however, is that there was a lot of give and take regarding hours. There was always downtime after a big deal and no busy period lasted forever. You also didn’t notice the time going by, however, as the work was really stimulating.”
James says this isn’t limited to the top tier firms. “Despite common perceptions, however, work-life balance is by no means better at mid-tiers. The work and industries mid-tiers deal with is just different.”
Advice to law students? “If you have good interpersonal skills, strong written and verbal communication skills, good organisational skills, can learn quickly and think carefully, you will go far... I had worked part-time and had participated in extra- curricular activities consistently throughout my time at university. This showed I could work in a team, keep myself organised and could jump out of my comfort zone if required.”
The thing he most enjoys about law is “the constant challenge, the constant learning and the constant possibilities”.