A day in the life: Sinead Nolan
Last week we spoke to The Learned Crew’s (TLC) founder, Jessie Porteus, about her career journey in the legal field and how TLC began.
Partnering with UTS Law and Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Australia, TLC have created Australia’s first ever in-house legal Clerkship Program and a number of lucky UTS students have been taking part. Today we’re having a chat with one of the interns (and UTS law student) undertaking this program, Sinead Nolan, about her experience so far, the realities of a clerkship, and what a day in her life looks like.
What inspired you to start studying law?
I’ve always admired how lawyers use their expert knowledge to help others and seek justice. Accordingly, I want to use my legal knowledge to help clients in achieving the best and most appropriate outcomes. I’ve also always genuinely enjoyed public speaking, reading and writing – which are all key elements of a career in law.
Before you started your clerkship what was your expectation of how it would go, compared to how it’s been so far?
My expectations for the clerkship were that I would mostly shadow the legal team. In reality, I have not only shadowed the team – but engaged in hands-on tasks during my clerkship. I’m enhancing my legal skills every day by attending meetings, reviewing contracts and conducting interesting research for the General Counsel.
So, in your opinion, what’s the main difference between working in the client-based vs in-house sectors?
A key difference between working in the client-based sector and In-House is the generalist nature of an In-House lawyer’s role. The legal team tackle tasks that require application of various areas of law, instead of specialising in one particular legal area. Another key difference is that in-house lawyers must not only be legal professionals, but commercial business people.
What does a day at your clerkship look like for you?
I arrive to the open-plan office shortly before 9am and greet the team. The General Counsel or Corporate Counsel then assigns me new tasks with respective deadlines. These tasks often include legal research or reviewing a new contract for changes. I’ll conduct detailed research on the relevant area and mark-up the contract with changes. The General Counsel or Corporate Counsel will then take the time to provide me with feedback and I’ll apply any of their requested changes. I’ll often also join meetings between the legal team and other colleagues/clients from the company. Once I’ve completed all my tasks for the day, I’ll check with the team if I can assist with anything else.
Has uni helped prepare you for your current role?
Despite the gap between studying law and practicing law, UTS has provided me with exceptional skills that I can apply in the legal field. In particular, I have consistently engaged with assignments that have tested my critical thinking and problem solving skills. Such assignments have equipped me with the way of thinking and the confidence to tackle real legal issues and engage with clients in practice. Further, UTS teaching staff are always extremely knowledgeable in their field. I’ve benefited from studying at UTS in learning from professionals who eagerly share their knowledge and passion for law.
How do you think this clerkship will benefit your career?
I definitely think this experience will benefit my career and make me more employable. It has been a truly fantastic opportunity and privilege to learn from such a respected in-house legal team. Whether it’s learning what provisions to look for in a contract, conducting research on new laws or regulations, or learning from the powerful negotiation skills of the in-house legal team during meetings, I’m gaining so many practical skills from this clerkship that I can confidently continue to apply throughout my legal career.
Featured image courtesy of Pexels
By Mia Casey