Volume 1, Issue 9 (Originally Published on 30 April 2012)
Name: Evan Willis
Firm: Holding Redlich
Graduating Year: 2010
Prior to studying law, Evan completed an Arts degree with Honours in philosophy at Melbourne. And, like many philosophy students, was aware that a philosophy degree is not really a money maker. Evan’s solution was to take six months off to figure out what he wanted to do, whereupon he sat the LSAT and obtained a sufficiently high score to pursue a JD at Melbourne.
Evan had, what I would call, a pretty typical experience while in law school. Some great courses, which he says include “Advocacy with Andrew Palmer, Deals with Andrew Godwin, Sports Law with Hayden Opie, and Employment Law with Joo- Cheong Tam”. Then there were the courses he liked but didn’t do well in, such as “Constitutional Law with Adrienne Stone”. And then there was the “Ah ha moment of Remedies, where everything just seemed to make sense”.
Beyond the actual curriculum Evan was a busy guy. Evan played Lacrosse each winter and also represented Victoria in the National Championships as well as working two jobs. Something he noticed when he started working at Holding Redlich, and some advice he would give to current students is, “Students don’t realise how hard they work. When you’re employed full time, for the most part you’re only working during business hours. And there’s no need to support yourself with another job.” It appears that working full time was almost a relief after the variety of things Evan undertook, and the things many students undertake, while in law school.
The job that created a pathway into Holding Redlich for both a clerkship and graduate position was working as a researcher in the library at Holding Redlich. Not only did this allow Evan to improve on his research skills, which is always a great thing to market to any firm, but it gave him the opportunity to get the feel of the firm. “It’s a great way to get to know a firm,” Evan states. You get a chance to sift through the firm’s public, marketed image and apply your experiences as an employee to make a decision about where you want to work.
About Holding Redlich
Evan praised Holding Redlich for their attitude to work- life balance. “They walk to the talk”.
Evan is clearly aware of the need for work-life balance. It’s unclear if this is who Evan is, how Holding Redlich supports a work-life balance, or a bit of both. On the Evan side, he recommends that, even during your legal studies, you should take time to focus on things outside of work or study. In the workplace he noted that “Burnout appears to be a big concern in the industry generally” and quoted the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that Holding Redlich provides for staff. It’s the mention of the EAP that makes me think Holding Redlich is aware of the need to support a work-life balance and is willing to utilise the available resources.
On a day to day basis Evan has settled in the Employment and Industrial Relations group, a team consisting of one partner, one senior associate and four solicitors. Evan is now one of the four solicitors after completing his graduate year at Holding Redlich. His graduate year consisted of 2 six-month rotations. These two rotations were in Corporate and Commercial Law, where Evan did a lot of media, superannuation, information technology and intellectual property work, and the Employment and Industrial Relations team, where he was exposed to dispute resolution work during which time he had the opportunity to represent employers, employees, and the unions.
Evan does have a firm-set target of billable hours per day. He says one of the biggest challenges to meeting this target as a junior solicitor is that the research required to get up to speed on an issue (which is pretty much every issue for a junior solicitor) does not count towards your billable hours.
“Australia’s Love Affair with Big Firms”
Evan did his research project for the JD ‘Legal Research’ subject on the work of American legal academic, Anthony Kronman. In his research Evan looked at, among other things, the market share of work as it is divided between large and small firms in the Australian market. He is in the process of turning this initial research into a published paper. What readers of De Minimis may like to know in this sneak peak at the published paper is that according to industry research, as of 2010, the top six firms in Australia did approximately 11% of the work in the legal market. This is compared with the United States where the top six firms only held 2% of the market. Evan’s question turns on the possibility of a coherent application ‘Virtue Ethics in the Context of Large Firms’ which is a principal concern in Kronman’s writings. Whether this is the same query readers may have, I do not know. What I do know is that a little information about the world you may one day enter can be helpful.