• Carissa Gay

I want your job: CLC Lawyer, Chimpo Bulawayo


One of the most diverse and challenging places to work at is a Community Legal Centre (CLC). Volunteering at the Northern Suburbs Community Legal Centre in Joondalup WA, I have had the benefit of working under Chimpo Bulawayo, a CLC lawyer, office comic and sporadic deep thinking conversationalist. Chimpo came to Australia in 2007 as an international student and was admitted in 2012.

Why did you choose to study law?

I have always had an interest in law generally. This interest was stemmed from injustices in some American high profile cases. The law profession in Zambia (my country of birth) is highly respected and distinguished. When I completed High School I carefully evaluated my career options and picked the option that would least likely leave me with regrets. I am glad I picked this profession.

How do you keep motivated?

Initially I struggled to keep motivated during the early stages of my degree. I quickly learnt that participating in law events such as mooting helped me stay motivated. Further, establishing good relationships with lecturers was also beneficial in keeping me active in lectures. I certainly noticed a significant difference once I was interactive.

Essential tips for Law Student?

I do regret not doing clerkships or volunteering during my degree. Clerkships not only build your experience, but also give you an opportunity to build critical relationships with people in the profession. These relationships can play a significant role during job seeking.

Why the Community Legal Sector?

I have always had a passion for helping the ‘little guy’. Working for a CLC exposes you to extremely vulnerable clients. This vulnerability is usually a combination of financial, language barrier and cultural issues. These are often people that go through the system without any representation. They have no idea of what their legal rights are. I enjoy assisting such clients. There is no better feeling that getting a fair legal outcome for a person that would have otherwise been a victim of the justice system.

What are the challenges in your work?

When you work in a CLC it quickly becomes apparent that the demands exceed the available resources. The majority of the clients we see are vulnerable. These vulnerable clients have two options when faced with legal issues, that is our help or being forced to do it themselves. Unfortunately retaining a private lawyer is not an option to them due to fees/costs. Though we do our best to help everyone, our resources are always stretched. This is always a challenge.

What are your hobbies and Interests outside the law?

I go for runs and play golf every week. These two hobbies are vital in my ability to be an effective lawyer. As a young lawyer you will quickly learn that it is not always easy to switch off when you leave the office. When you take your work home it can have a detrimental impact on your quality of life. I have found that engaging in activities does help me switch off.

If you were not a lawyer, what would you be?

I was set on being a lawyer at a very early age. Had I not pursued law I would have probably followed in my father’s footsteps and done engineering. I do not doubt that I would have found this to be challenging as it is not my passion.

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