Volume 2, Issue 2 (Originally Published 30 July 2012)
Name: Giuseppe Ensabella
Firm: Baker & McKenzie
Graduating year: 2011
At this point in the year, firms have visited MLS multiple times and preached what they want in their students: teamwork, communication, etc. It was interesting interviewing Giuseppe because he brought the other side to light - that firms want team players who communicate well, but also look for well rounded people who have interpersonal skills and a variety of interests outside work
For Giuseppe, the “romance with Baker & McKenzie” began with a paralegal-type role, arising from the firm’s need for a fluent Italian speaker and Giuseppe’s ability to fill that role. But this job didn’t come knocking at his door.
Giuseppe arrived at the end of his second year studying law to the realisation that in a couple of months’ time he was due to complete clerkship applications. A second realisation hit - he had no legal experience, so he thought he'd better do something about it!.
This led to a manic job search which appeared to be fruitful after interviewing at a small firm and being given the position. The problem? Once he was told he got the job, Giuseppe never heard from the small firm again.
The manic search for a job continued, with a paralegal role at Baker & McKenzie being the position he eventually landed. From there, Giuseppe's Baker & McKenzie experience flourished – he undertook a paralegal position for half a year, did a clerkship, became a part-time research clerk, and landed a role as a graduate. Giuseppe noted that, in every team and practice group he worked with, everyone was very approachable and had an open door policy, and there was a genuine sense of collaboration as well. In fact, Giuseppe said “If you don’t know whether you’re doing something right, you can always ask the person next to you.”
On the Clerkship Process
Giuseppe was applying for clerkships when the GFC hit Australia, in autumn 2009. He said that he knows “a lot of people with good marks and a lot of hard working people with great experiences who didn’t get a clerkship”. He specifically remembers one friend who had 10 interviews and didn’t get a single clerkship. Giuseppe himself applied for 6 clerkships and only received one offer.
Giuseppe recommends trying to get a sense of the firms you’re applying to. He notes that while he was at university, there seemed to be a sense amongst the students that one should at least try the corporate experience. However, he said that “not everyone who goes through a law firm is aware of what a corporate firm does. And some of these people who go to a corporate firm really don’t enjoy their experience.” In other words, make the choice to be in a corporate firm, and then make the choice regarding the firm you want to work for.
The Graduate Rotations
The graduate rotations at Baker & McKenzie are 3 x 6 months. Giuseppe’s first rotation was in property, which involved drafting leases and contracts of sale, debt enforcement, and due diligence on properties to be purchased. His favourite part of this rotation was having substantial contact with clients.
His second rotation was in dispute resolution and litigation which involved working on prominent matters for top clients… and a lot of research. His favourite experience was when he got to do that thing “that so many lawyers want to do the moment they start their degree – go to Court!”.
His current rotation is with the corporate team and is exciting because Giuseppe gets to work for a number of international clients under the direction of an international partner - an experience that he is only able to do working for such a large, international firm.
Law School vs Work
As many of the alumni have noted, law school is hard work. Giuseppe thinks that one of the distinguishing features of having a full time job is that “you’re productive every day” whereas with uni “it’s hard to stay motivated” and “SWOTVAC’s a very stressful period”.
But law school was definitely not that bad. The courses Giuseppe enjoyed the most were the practical ones such as Dispute Resolution with Camille Cameron and Advocacy taught, in part, by Hampel J. He also enjoyed Competition Law with Arlen Duke but had a word of warning that those of you who took the course last semester are probably well aware of- “Get ready for the exam!”
Best and worst of working in Law
Best: finally being able to do some "real" legal work, the people he gets to work with and has met along the way, and mixed netball (go Obstructions!).
Worst: the longer days, with the occasional late night (the latest Giuseppe’s faced is 12:30pm).
Best advice: from his mum “Always consider other people’s advice, but stick to your own.”
If he ruled the world for a day: “I’d make it a public holiday.”
Favourite coffee spot near MLS: “Definitely Seven Seeds.”