Celebrating 10 years of Survive Law
2020 marks the tenth year of Survive Law. In August 2009, buoyed by seed funding from the UTS Law faculty, Survive Law launched at an orientation of new students. At the time, I was 21, with no graduate job and no particular plan. It seemed like a good idea - a practical guide to navigating readings, assessments, clerkships and cliques, written by law students, for law students.
Particularly because research conducted by the Brain and Mind Research Institute flagged that 40% of law students experienced concerning levels of depression, isolation and an inclination towards pessimism characterised the law student psyche, warping our worldviews.
Additionally, in 2009 the GFC hit so hard even honour students struggled to access graduate programs. My friends and peers were trading hours for free internships anywhere they could, or slipping into unplanned gap years to ride out the economic storm. It didn't feel like a great time to dwell on our unhappiness, much less raise gripes about unpaid labour or 100 hour weeks. Survive Law was a place to hide, humour and encourage each other online. It was an outpost of eccentric optimism and nerdy legal quips. By 2012, under the stewardship of editor Kathryn Crossley, we grew to over 50 writers across Australia, attracting over half a million site visitors per year.
A decade on, I couldn't be prouder of what Survive Law has become. Its Facebook following alone is 82,000 strong. Its led by a generation
of young lawyers quite unlike any who have come before. It is not enough for lawyers entering the legal profession to tolerate the sleepless months, & physical and mental impacts of Big Law. Survive Law has helped drive a seismic cultural shift in the Law. With the rise of legal tech and alternative legal service providers, students and graduates have more leverage than ever before.
You know what this means, right? My generation might be the last to put up with health-ruining stoicism and dreams of partnership. This cultural change is already evident because most people I studied Law alongside aren't even lawyers anymore. The ones who remain do so much more on their terms, leading legal tech ventures, in house teams or risk and compliance divisions.
As for me, I became a tutor, subject coordinator, and now lecturer. I started a space-themed cat cafe, for some reason and even invested in a mafia bar! Now I'm in legal tech, as global comms lead for LEAP legal software.
Law isn't a career you could ever plan. People often ask me how you end up here? It's simple- work hard. Mandate downtime, and don't judge - yourself or anyone else. Stop worrying about whether you're doing the right thing compared to whoever else. On a long enough timeline, everybody slips. Just enjoy what you can, work through what you can't, and learn.
That's what it means to Survive Law.