GPs of the legal world
It’s been a tradition for graduating law students to follow a career path with one of the big firms but this tradition is gradually changing with the steady growth of other legal opportunities.
One such opportunity is the role of in-house counsel within a company or organisation.
Currently about a third of lawyers in Australia are working as in-house counsel and this number is growing but often law students are not well informed about this area of legal practice.
UTS Law is working to change this by partnering with the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Australia and training group, The Learned Crew to be part of Australia's first ever in-house legal Clerkship Program.
Executive Director of ACC Australia, Ingrid Segota says the aim of the program is to educate graduating law students about the wide range of opportunities available in the in-house sector:
The Clerkship Program is one of several initiatives that ACC Australia is involved in to heighten the awareness of in-house as a possible career pathway for law students. We are excited about the Clerkship Program as we believe that it creates future lawyers who are better equipped to work in-house and to work with in-house counsel and corporate clients.
Over the winter months, 8 UTS Law students are taking up the opportunity to experience the exciting world of in-house law across a range of companies
The paid internships run for three weeks and include placements with Origin Energy, Challenger Investments and online clothing store, The Iconic.
The Learned Crew’s Jessie Porteus trains students in preparation for the clerkships and says it’s an eye opener for them:
Being an in-house lawyer is like being a ‘GP of the legal world’, where almost anything with a legal flavour could come across your desk, and it is not just about being a lawyer, it is also about being a business person.
It’s the opposite of specialising in one particular legal area. For example, issues that in-house counsel at The Iconic might have to deal with include Intellectual Property and trade mark matters as well as copyright and logistical, and supply chain issues.
Lawyers working with companies who have international dealings need to be across even more legal areas including contract standardisation, different jurisdictional laws and the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
UTS Law Associate Dean, Maxine Evers says the opportunity for students to experience the breadth of the role that in-house Counsel have in a successful corporation is invaluable:
This pilot clerkship program with ACC Australia demonstrates the diversity of legal work and options for law graduates. Importantly the rigorous training program facilitated by Jessie Porteus enables students to maximise their experience and to bring insight into their placements.