A day in the life: Daphne Zhou and Lisa Nguyen
Chatting with Daphne Zhou and Lisa Nguyen, we learn about the importance of law in society, email troubles, supportive mentors, and the benefits of working in-house.
What first inspired you to start pursuing law as your career?
I was interested in studying law because it essentially governs every aspect of our life! Whilst there are so many aspects to the law, I believe it is essential to have an understanding of how it governs our society, and how the law is constantly evolving.
I thought law was empowering in terms of knowing your legal rights, helping others in the community and making an impact. I enjoy the challenge of studying law to this day as I am constantly learning. With a law degree, I also have the option to work on a variety of tasks in diverse areas, industries or fields.
Has university helped prepare you for working in industry?
University has provided me with introductory technical knowledge on understanding different legal concepts. It has also provided me with the ability to approach different issues analytically.
While this is so, there is one thing university has not prepared me for the clerkship experience – managing the constant incoming emails (whether legal related or not!).
What does a day in the life of this internship look like for you?
This just depends on the day and what tasks I have lined up. Usually I’ll come into the office at 9am and set my computer up/connect it to everything. They have a hot desking system here so you can pretty much set up anywhere (although some people have their favourite spots). Each day brings something different, although I’ll usually pick up a task from where I left off most of the time.
For example, I’m currently working on organising their physical and digital contracts at the moment, which is a big project that definitely cannot be done in a day. I may spend the morning working on that project. I also try to do different tasks each day so that I am not working on one project the whole time. After lunch, I’ll usually switch up the tasks. So far, this has included legal research, simplifying complex legal concepts for the business (e.g. creating guides and posters), or working on a contracts register. The legal team has scheduled meetings to debrief on work that has been done, to give and receive feedback and talk about future goals and objectives.
Does working in-house differ from working in the private sector?
One key difference is the ability to be involved across various arms of the business and understand how different branches within the company work together to solve various issues that may arise e.g. the legal team may review contracts to explain our obligations to the risk and compliance team.
Furthermore, in-house lawyers are required to be commercial. As such, they are not only required to advise on the legal outcomes of certain issues and actions, but are required to balance this with the business’ objectives and goals.
Another difference is that there is no requirement for the keeping of time sheets. I find this allows me to better focus on the task at hand without worrying what to classify the task as, or whether I am completing it within a specified time.
What was your expectation for your clerkship vs the reality?
I did not expect the legal team to be so invested in my learning. They are very welcoming and willing to listen to my specific interests so that I can do tasks that I enjoy. I also did not expect how much work an in-house legal team actually has to do, and a lot of it isn’t substantive legal drafting or review. A big bulk of their work is in simplifying processes for the business and making ‘legal’ easier for other departments to understand and implement in their own negotiations and work. You also have the gratification of seeing how your work is helping the business because it directly contributes to reaching the business’ objectives.
How do you think this experience will benefit your career or make you more employable?
I think this experience has allowed me to develop the ability to think more commercially, and balance the risks of certain decisions against the business’ objectives. It has allowed me to understand that sometimes, risks are unavoidable, but it is a matter of managing or reducing those risks for the business. It has also exposed me to different legal documents, such as investment management agreements, and has improved my legal drafting skills as I was required to draft settlement agreements..
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
By Mia Casey