Unemployed New Lawyers – Would you pay $22,000 for a Job?

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The problem

In Australia, law graduates are required to either complete a supervised workplace training program (generally with a law firm or an in-house legal department), or a practical legal training program offered by an accredited educational institution in order to become admitted to practise law, i.e. It’s the next major step after graduation to qualify as a lawyer.  Supervised workplace trainees are paid a graduate salary, whilst practical legal training trainees pay around $10,000.00 in course fees, though there are also hybrid arrangements. Once admitted, new lawyers, particularly those who completed a practical legal training program and therefore may not have accumulated significant experience with a potential employer, face the challenge of seeking supervised employment. A newly admitted lawyer must be supervised for two years as a condition of their restricted practising certificate.

It is well-known that there is an oversupply of law graduates and new lawyers in metropolitan Australia, significantly increasing the competition when it comes to supervised workplace training programs and subsequently, first-year positions. It has been estimated that Australia is producing 12,000 law graduates a year, however there are only 60,000 working lawyers in the country. Of course, this includes students studying double degrees and post graduate degrees etc. who may not necessarily have ambitions to pursue careers as lawyers; however the number still leaves me incredulous.

I experienced this competitive environment myself during practical legal training in 2013; the proportion of trainees that had secured legal roles was definitely outweighed by the proportion that hadn’t. It is indeed a catch 22. Most positions advertised sought a lawyer with 2-3 years post admission experience yet graduates couldn’t get their foot in the door to rack up the same. Even now at the current firm that I work at, I was told that there were over 300 applicants for 1 supervised workplace training position. First year lawyer positions are even more of a rarity. Clearly, it is a buyer’s market and the firms have all the bargaining power when it comes to having graduates and new lawyers jumping through hoops and being able to select those who are perceived as being the cream of the crop.

A controversial ‘solution’

With this in mind environment in mind, I was amused however not surprised when I came across this article about a new Adelaide based firm, Adlawgroup, proposing to charge newly admitted lawyers $22,000.00 for a two-year “employment and mentoring program“. (more…)

A twenty-something’s guide to ‘adulting’ before 30

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So, I’m turning 27 in August which basically means I’m turning 30 in 5 minutes and it’s never been more clear to me that I’m well and truly on the bus to grown up town. For one thing, in my new workplace, I’m no longer the youngest employee in the department. I’ve worked full time in office environments for over 7 years, and I’ve always interacted with older employees only. This was something I tried to hide at first, starting out as an 18 year old and keen to earn the respect of those around me, and then entering my early twenties it was something I embraced. But now there are at least 3-4 people I interact with who are my age or younger, I’m finally amidst my generation in the workforce and it’s making me realise that we’re all well and truly ‘adulting‘.  Another example of this is meeting with a financial planner who was my age. Call me an age-ist but we were both sitting in this meeting room having a professional conversation and in the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘wow, it’s like we’re both pretending to be grown ups, but he’s my age, he knows that I’m not!‘.

I don’t know about you, but I and the majority of friends my age don’t feel like we’re bona fide adults yet. There are things in life that shouldn’t have to change with age if you don’t want them to. For example, how much fun you have, how passionate you are about what you do, your hobbies and the time you spend with family and friends. However, the looming prospect of 30 does motivate me to get the boring and basics of being a responsible adult in order.  Here’s my guide to feeling like a responsible adult who has their shit together. (more…)

The MBA halfway slump – working with apathetic syndicate members

I started the MBA in April 2014 and completion of this current term brings me exactly to the halfway point. I have come to notice an interesting phenomenon, which for lack of a better diagnosis, I will deem the ‘halfway slump’. It probably hasn’t affected everybody, but there are an overwhelming number of fellow students I’ve spoken to who are experiencing burn out and a lack of motivation towards the MBA. I suspect there are a few factors at play: (more…)

Resigning gracefully: 15 Dos and Don’ts for serving out your notice period

Life-is-a-balance-of-holding-and-letting-goIt’s a small world and with the widespread use of websites such as LinkedIn, it’s getting much smaller. It is therefore not advisable to drop the ball in terms of your behaviour as soon as you resign from a role, no matter what you think of your employer.

These are my tips on resigning gracefully and ensuring that your final weeks with your employer help, rather than hinder your career.

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Dear rule breakers, questioners, straight-A students who skipped class: We want you.

The above message is prominently displayed on the jobs webpage of one of my favourite clothing labels, Everlane, and I love everything about it. I love the idea of an organisation who dares their people to break rules and question, because with that comes creativity, innovation and better ways of doing things. I love that they acknowledge that you can be smart, driven and succeed in the educational system without actually conforming to the educational system. And of course, I love that these are the type of people they want to hire. Not just willing to hire, but actually wanting to hire. (more…)

Winter 2015 Corporate Wardrobe Wishlist – Neutrals and Silver

Winter 2015 Wardrobe

Surprise, surprise – nothing but neutrals. Here is a roundup of my recent (and hopefully future) corporate wardrobe purchases for Winter 2015, with links below. (more…)

Things to Consider When Changing Jobs or Careers

Sometimes a decision to change jobs or careers is really easy. For example, when you absolutely hate your current working environment or when you are going for your dream job. However, there are times when the pros and cons of the decision are much more subtle, or where there are different factors pulling you in opposite directions. For example, when you really enjoy your current role however a new job is offering you more career progression.  Or when you are giving up a well-paying job for a much lower paying job that is in your dream industry.

photoI have certainly grappled with this tough task over the previous month, or more accurately, over the previous year. I had qualified as a Lawyer back in February 2014 but had opted not to practise law in favour of working in the Risk & Compliance team of a large, well known national group of companies. I found that over the last year, the thought of practising law was always in the back of my mind, causing me to constantly doubt and second guess my career path.  An opportunity presented itself for me to work as a Lawyer in a mid-tier law firm and I had to very quickly decide whether I was willing to embrace the change.

I considered the following factors, however they are definitely not equally weighted. I downloaded a weighted pros and cons app so I could assign the appropriate ‘level of significance’ to these factors. Though the financial and lifestyle differences were quite large cons (it must be one of the best kept secrets that many Lawyers don’t actually make that much money!), the benefit of actually practising law (and thus avoiding future regrets and uncertainty) was too great and dwarfed all other setbacks, particularly at this early stage in my career. However, this list was still very helpful as it allowed me to conduct my due diligence in a methodical manner, so there would (hopefully) be no surprises as to what I what I was getting myself into. (more…)