Kounny Rattley is a young solicitor at top-tier corporate law firm, Clayton Utz. She holds a double degree in Communications (Social Inquiry)/Law, the latter attained with First Class Honours. During the course of her career so far, she has practised in the areas of employment law, corporate advisory/M&A, banking and finance and litigation.
Her job, she says, can be very demanding – “on your time, your energy and mental ability. But that’s what makes it so rewarding for me. I love being challenged. I love learning and growing. I love contributing in a meaningful way to the team I work with and to solving problems for my clients. I love working with people who are intelligent, ambitious, interesting and, based on my experience, extremely supportive of me, both professionally and personally.”
“I love being challenged. I love learning and growing. I love contributing in a meaningful way to the team I work with and to solving problems for my clients. I love working with people who are intelligent, ambitious, interesting and, based on my experience, extremely supportive of me, both professionally and personally.”
For those law hopefuls aspiring to life at the big end of town, the competition can be daunting. “If you want a summer clerkship or graduate job working in a mid or top tier law firm, having experience in the legal field will help set you apart from the hundreds (or is it now thousands?) of other applicants,” said Kounny, who worked as a paralegal for Clayton Utz while she studied, before applying for the much vaunted penultimate year summer clerkships.
She advises a more creative, confident approach. “Most firms will not necessarily advertise paralegal roles. I suggest putting together a fantastic CV and sending it off to the HR department of firms you may want to paralegal with. If you haven’t heard back from them in a week or so, follow up with a phone call. If there are absolutely no positions open, they will probably at least keep your CV on file and may contact you later – this is what happened to me!” she adds.
Of course, there are other perks of corporate law, even during in your outhouse days of university study. “Working at a law firm means you’ll have access to great resources – everything from a library where the journals/textbooks do NOT have their pages ripped out to people who have ‘been there, done that’ and can give you very useful advice.”
To near graduates, Kounny offers sanguine encouragement. “Don’t worry. The professional sphere can be extremely intimidating if you haven’t had any experience. It may appear cold and very closed if you’re on the outside. But there are so many ways in.
If you’re worried because you don’t know what you want to do, I’d say, “You’re not alone!” Most young lawyers I know still haven’t made up their minds about their ultimate career path. Perhaps it’s a Generation Y thing. I know people who have gone from corporate law to everything from banking, consulting, medicine and working as a volunteer in a third world country. I also know teachers and air force pilots who have become lawyers. There’s fluidity. Nothing is set in stone.”
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