6.42 AM – 7.00 AM
Snooze. Snooze. Alright, I’m up. Ouch, why is that so sore. I didn’t realise I had a muscle there. Soccer training from the night before has obviously taken its toll. I’m burning daylight, let’s make a move.
Time for my morning commute. A 20-minute drive to the station and train to Town Hall. Quick interchange to Martin Place and I have arrived in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. By far the toughest hour of the day, but I utilise this time wisely. Checking emails that have come through overnight, planning my day by prioritising tasks, and of course, checking overnight soccer results and highlights, are just some habits I have developed to ensure that I am prepared to tackle the day.
It takes time to understand your role in the team. It then takes a little more time to understand how you work as an individual. I grab a morning coffee in the lobby and some breakfast and head up to the office. I begin the day by working on some smaller tasks on my to-do list. Reviewing and preparing documents to be sent to clients or other solicitors, completing small amendments and emails. I feel super productive ticking this off my list and I now have time to concentrate the bigger tasks for the rest of the day.
The Sparke mailroom is completing its rounds. Sign here and here. I am now the proud owner of multiple parcels and envelopes that need attention. I briefly review the correspondence and prioritise the importance of the documents. One needs urgent attention and the client has advised that they are pushing to finalise the matter shortly.
I review the documents and prepare a letter to the client enclosing the documents for execution with particular instructions on how the documents are to be signed. I have quickly come to learn that attention to detail when preparing documentation for the NSW Land Registry Service is critical, as any mistakes will lead to requisition and may require the documents to be sent to the client again. Something I want to avoid! I make sure that my instructions are as clear as possible, and of course correct, before preparing the documents for posting.
Mid-morning, the peak time for productivity. I have been tasked with preparing a Deed of Renewal and Variation for a Lease. This seems straight forward but is too good to be true. There’s the kicker – 6 previous renewals and variations. Proceed with caution I remind myself as I work my way through the documents.
After I think I have finished, I review the document and email a senior associate to review. It is important to ensure that any document sent to a client is technically correct, and as a junior, if you are unsure, it is best for someone to check over this.
I receive a call from a lawyer on the other side of a transaction to discuss the negotiation table, which proposes amendments to a lease that I have reviewed.
‘Agreed’, ‘not agreed’, ‘I’ll have to confirm my client’s instructions’ and ‘refer to the Retail Leases Act’ are common phrases that I will hear and use as part of these conversations to achieve a win-win scenario. Shortly after, I prepare an email to the client providing an update on my discussions and to confirm instructions on how they would like to proceed.
The excitement, or stress, of negotiating has made me hungry, I think it’s time to grab a bite to eat.
Sparke Helmore’s Sydney office is in the MLC Centre, so the choice of cuisine is at my fingertips. Too much choice is sometimes a blessing and a curse. I think I’ll stick to what I know. I grab a flat-bread prosciutto sandwich and head back up to the kitchen.
On the way back, I have bumped into some other Sparke Helmore grads. A great chance to catch up and see how everyone is faring in their rotation. One grad from Insurance, another from Government and one more from Dispute Resolution. This chat provides me with a great chance to find out a bit more about my fellow graduates and their roles,and to gauge if their area of law could be anyone that I would be interested in.
We’ve just received instructions. I’ve been asked to prepare a Contract of Sale for the vendor of a commercial property. Another good opportunity to work on a different type of transaction completed within the practice group.
Reviewing the client’s instructions, and documents on file, I use the Sparke Helmore precedents and knowledge database to help me prepare the documents. The precedent knowledge database ensures that I am using the firm styles whilst helping me work through the process of contract preparation, exchange and settlement along the way.
I receive a call from reception letting me know that clients have arrived for our scheduled meeting. I welcome the client to our offices and escort them to the meeting room where a video conference has already been organised with the senior associate from our Melbourne office.
While the senior associate discusses the more pressing matters with our client I listen intently to the discussions and write down any notable or actionable points that have been agreed. I will put this in an email to the senior associate once the meeting is over so that we have a record on file of our discussions and a list of our next steps.
Having recently rotated into the Property team as part of the firm’s Corporate & Commercial practice, I am still unfamiliar with the nuances of some transactional processes. I’ve hit a roadblock. I’m not quite sure how to deal with this. I send a quick message to a senior member of the team via our office IM to see if they are free and able to assist. “Come to my office and we can run through it together” is the response I receive. I meet with my colleague, or sometimes even my supervising partner, who take some time to share their knowledge and assist me in improving my understanding and application of the law and its processes.
Consistent learning and guidance are criteria I highly value when deciding on a graduate program. I initially feared that the importance placed on hierarchy within firms would mean that I would not be given the time of day. This has certainly not been the case in my experience.
Back to work, I go with this knowledge to complete the task at hand.
6.00 PM – 6.30 PM
The day has almost come to an end. I have written my ‘To-do’ list for tomorrow and recorded my time to ensure that all my admin is up to date. Since my current role is very task-oriented, I ensure that any urgent tasks have been completed before heading out. Depending on your practice group and team, this may not always be the case. In my previous rotation with the Workplace team, I would check in with my team before leaving to make sure that there was nothing else that I could assist with before heading out. Always remember, teamwork makes the dream work.
A quick outfit change and I’m off to training.
Finally, I’m home. The next few hours are the quickest of the day as I start to wind down. A quick dinner and chat with the family, before catching up on some Netflix or Stan.
Time to get some sleep.
Where am I tomorrow? Of course, it’s my secondment day. My secondment experience has been a rewarding opportunity to continue my growth as a law graduate. Being an in-house legal role, I have been exposed to the functions and processes of a completely different legal environment. Secondment has been a great way as a junior to begin developing client relationships and truly understanding the client’s value in a firm.
I can’t wait to find out what I’ll learn tomorrow.