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Sparke Helmore Lawyers

  • 500 - 1,000 employees

Caelan Bruce

I’ve always had a strong interest in intellectual property so having an opportunity to put into practice the law that I studied at university to develop practical solutions for clients is incredibly rewarding.

What's your job about?

Sparke Helmore is a national, full-service firm known for delivering exceptional results for its clients. I am currently a law graduate in the firm’s Intellectual Property & Technology (IPT) team and previously spent a few years working as a paralegal in the firm’s Commercial Insurance group. During my time in the Commercial Insurance group, I was fortunate enough to have the day-to-day conduct of 20-30 matters, which were mainly about recovering damages from at-fault drivers and their insurers on behalf of our insurer clients. Work spanned from receiving initial instructions from the clients, preparing letters of demand, commencing proceedings in the Local Court of NSW and the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, preparing evidence and proceeding through to either settlement or hearing. Since joining the IPT team, I have assisted with providing advice to clients around trademark availability and registrability, as well as trademark prosecution.

What's your background?

I grew up on a farm on the Central Coast surrounded by horses and chickens. Throughout high school, I worked as a barista at a local café on weekends (where I learnt the importance of both customer service and endless patience) and secured an admin role at a local law firm, which sparked my interest in the law. In 2016 I moved to Sydney and began studying a Bachelor of Business at the University of Technology Sydney while working at a boutique law firm specialising in strata and conveyancing. After realising that I had a passion for the law and that accounting wasn’t for me, I transferred into a Bachelor of Laws in early 2017 and shortly afterwards joined Sparke Helmore as a paralegal.

Having worked at Sparke Helmore throughout my entire law degree, I had the pleasure of gaining experience in the firm’s Commercial Insurance group (CTP, property damage recoveries and construction), Corporate Advisory and Government teams. When the applications for 2020 graduate programs opened, I knew that I wanted to join the program at Sparke Helmore having already experienced the brilliant culture and diverse range of work on offer at the firm.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes and no. In order to become a lawyer in NSW, you need to obtain an appropriate academic qualification and have completed practical legal training. However, almost all lawyers will have come from different backgrounds and have entirely different life experiences. In fact, different backgrounds and experiences (such as having studied overseas or pursuing a career in law after working in a different industry) are invaluable and contribute to the diversity of the legal profession. Being a law graduate doesn’t require being across every single aspect of the law but having the right attitude and work ethic. Communication and time-management skills are highly transferable and a lack of industry-specific experience won’t necessarily stop you from being considered for a graduate role.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The greatest thing that I’ve found working at Sparke Helmore is the quality of the work that you get given from the get-go. I’ve always had a strong interest in intellectual property so having an opportunity to put into practice the law that I studied at university to develop practical solutions for clients is incredibly rewarding. Additionally, one of the best aspects of the graduate program at Sparke Helmore is the sense of camaraderie amongst the cohort. Even though everyone is spread out across each of the firm’s offices, we were able to meet and get to know one another at the two-day induction held in Sydney and still manage to keep in touch.

What are the limitations of your job?

The greatest limitation to be aware of going into the legal profession is the demand on your time. Recording your time and having billable targets definitely takes a while to get used to and there may be times when it feels as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. It’s times like these that highlight the importance of time-management skills and for junior lawyers, the ability to prioritise.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Get involved in as much as you can early on in your degree. The number of law graduates entering the market each year means that there is fierce competition for summer clerk and graduate positions at law firms. Save yourself a great deal of stress later in your degree and develop your skillset by being proactive early in your degree. This could involve securing an administrative role in a law firm, volunteering at a not-for-profit legal centre or becoming an active member of your university’s law society. 
  2. Say “yes” to the opportunities that come your way and treat new experiences as opportunities for personal growth.
  3. Despite the first two pieces of advice, make time for yourself and remember that you have a life outside of study and work. Friends, family, hobbies and exercise are important for your wellbeing. Since finishing my degree, I’ve reclaimed my weekends and have started taking tennis lessons. Keep an eye out for me in the 2021 Australian Open!