First rotation practice group? Corporate Advisory and Tax Team Partner you worked most closely with? David Coombes and Biljana Apostolova
Second rotation practice group? Employment Advisory Partner you worked most closely with? Steven Troeth and Ian Dixon
What was the one thing about Gadens that made you apply for a graduate role?
I initially joined Gadens as a legal assistant in the
Property, Construction and Planning Team in November 2017. My role as a legal
assistant, and the experiences it afforded me, spurred my desire to build a
career at Gadens. It was the diversity of the firm’s work and the philosophy of
providing commercial and pragmatic legal advice, as well as innovative online
legal solutions to its clients that particularly appealed to me.
Additionally, the collaborative, supportive and collegial
ethos of Gadens aligned with the type of environment I wanted to be a part of,
therefore when the opportunity arose to apply for the graduate program, I did
The rest is history.
What piece of advice would you give the next round of graduate
Embrace your mistakes! What I have learnt from my personal experience is
that the mistakes I have made have always presented the best opportunities to
learn. Nothing rings truer than the philosophy “everything will be ok in
the end and if it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.” Mistakes are part-and-parcel
of being a graduate, so it is important as a junior lawyer to acknowledge and
admit your mistakes and not fret the small setbacks.
As one of my supervising partners once told me, a lawyer’s ability to
respond to their own mistakes is often a key determinant in the success of
What was the highlight of your graduate year?
The whole year was an amazing experience! The Grads@Gadens program isn’t
like a typical graduate program where you receive minimal exposure to legal
Particularly, a highlight for me was in my second rotation where I was
given sole carriage of an unfair dismissal case which progressed all the way to
a hearing stage at the Fair Work Commission. One of the partners in my team believed
it would be a great experience for myself and another junior lawyer (who
happened to be my grad mentor) to appear at the Commission on our own. After
months of suspension, of waiting for the judgement to be handed down, our claim
was successful and we obtained a fantastic outcome for the Applicant. This was
later featured in multiple national employment law tracker websites, Workplace
Express and Workplace Bulletin.
It was an amazing opportunity to be involved in a case that yielded a
result that was newsworthy, but it was also a great learning experience as I
was able to run my own case, act as instructing solicitor during the hearing,
and ultimately have a bit of fun with another junior solicitor.
What thing has surprised you most
about being a graduate?
Being a graduate has its challenges, so having a strong network is
vital. Inevitably, your fellow graduates become that solid support network as everyone
is encountering similar experiences. Whilst I knew I would be able to rely on the
graduates, I didn’t expect to feel such a strong sense of cohort solidarity right
from the outset.
What also surprised me was how those at the firm were well aware of who
the 2018 “Gradens” were. More often than not, I had people from
different floors, whom I had never met, approach me and ask how I was going. It
was both comforting and encouraging to know that the support offered to me extended
beyond my team and mentors.
The mentoring that you receive as a graduate at Gadens is unparalleled.
Any time I had a question, no one was too busy or too stressed to help. I was very
fortunate to work alongside some great mentors.
Describe a typical day at Gadens?
My morning coffee ritual is sacrosanct. It is a great opportunity to
catch up with colleagues who work in different teams, on different floors, as I
don’t get to see them regularly on a day-to-day basis. Usually this is where my
“typical day” at Gadens ends, as no day is ever the same.
I am part of a team that balances both advisory and litigious work, therefore
I find myself completing different tasks on any given day from briefing
Counsel, drafting affidavits or sifting through hundreds of discoverable
documents, to considering legal aspects, preparing letters of advices or
drafting employment contracts.
I can honestly say I love coming into the office every day and working
in a team where we all have a shared vision and purpose, and are fully
motivated, engaged and empowered to work alongside each other and champion one
another. It’s great to know that I can share my ideas, collaborate and test my
thinking with my fellow team members.
What piece of work are you most proud of from your
Gadens focuses heavily on learning and development opportunities. The
firm holds numerous internal lunchtime seminars for staff on a range of legal topics
During my second rotation I arranged a firm seminar on the topic “Independent Contractors v Employees:
Who’s who in a gig economy” where myself and an associate in my team
presented to the firm. This topic in
the employment space gained a lot of traction in mid-2018, with cases such as
Uber and Foodora being tested in the courts. Given the current changing
landscape in this new digital-era, it was important for partners, senior and
junior lawyers in other teams to be aware of these changes, and effectively
communicate to their clients the risks involved in getting it wrong.
Despite the frenzied nerves, sweaty palms and moments of regret in
organising the seminar, I am immensely proud of myself for overcoming my nerves
and presenting to the firm. To date, I am one of the youngest solicitors to
have conducted an internal seminar.
How has a graduate program prepared you for life as a
Having already had the opportunity to work at Gadens prior to the
graduate program, I was fortunate to have a great understanding of the
commercial realities of working within a law firm, and the skills that underpin
effective work-in-progress and billing practices.
However, the graduate program allowed me to not only continue to develop my
analytical, drafting and problem solving skills but also provided me with the
opportunity to build upon my business acumen, develop my litigious skills, hone
my ability to research complex areas and assist clients in navigating through
their legal problems.
Authored by: News | My year as a Grad with Stacey Nicolaou, ,