Results May Vary
Now that I’m done university and am soon to be done with the College of Law work that will make me eligible to obtaining my solicitor’s practicing certificate, things are really looking up for me. (The situation is still really tricky for [CM], but that’s another post in itself.)
Truth be told, I think I really lucked out when I was offered a job by my employment law professor. At first, I only worked a few days for her back in December 2013– I basically did some legal research, and then it was over. I didn’t hear anything from her ever since, and since I was engaged on a casual basis, no work means no hours. She sent me a message asking if I was still available, months later, probably around April 2014– which was surprising, but I was hungry for work. So I agreed to come in and get things done.
Since then, I’ve been working on and off. I’ve now got a bit more of a genuine part-time status, being scheduled twice a week to come in regardless of whether there is any major client work to be done. Pretty often, I go in 4 or 5 times a week, and some of it is work I can do from home.
So how have I lucked out? Well, even if you put aside the fact that I have a complicated perspective of “luck,” there are just so many things out of my control that at least for now, just seemed to align right.
First of all, when my boss was my professor, I didn’t really like that class. Employment law was notionally interesting, but my professor was clearly not an organised teacher and the course’s structure and coverage was all over the place. Further more, the grading scheme was kind of nuts, inviting the entire class to basically get a crazy amount of good grades without any means of actually filtering out the people who were truly lazy or incompetent. For me, who is all about gaming law school grades to help me in long term career, this class’s organisation was a total nightmare.
When my prof initially approached me to offer me a casual office-help position, I was hesitant mostly because I didn’t have all that great an impression from the way she ran her class. I was used to working in offices of all different sorts. I worked in public hospital administration for about 7 years, across two hospitals, and in about 4 different departments. I worked law jobs in community legal centres, I worked in a firm that specialises in German and Swiss commercial clients doing business with Australia, I worked in Hong Kong where culture is about as corporate as it gets. My impression of my prof could probably not be further from what I imagine a boss to be like.
Turns out she’s pretty cool as a boss. She’s a sole practitioner, which means that she is a lawyer who for the most part works solo. That means that on a daily basis, I am working with the person in charge of the business– it means that there’s a lot more control over the nature of my work environment. The workplace has proven to be ultra flexible– I start and finish roughly when I want, my days are flexible. Work wise, it’s challenging stuff. My work varies a lot– some days, I’m doing the job of an IT guy, setting up remote access for the network for us so we can use the systems from home. Another day, I was going through student emails, evaluating their class participation. Another day, I was writing a lesson plan for her. And last week, I doing some research and drafting for clients.
A varied workload is the way to go I think. At the moment, I think my one gripe is that I don’t get a lot of feedback on my work– the boss is so busy doing one thing after another that there isn’t much time for her to train me or give me much feedback. A lot of what’s ending up on my plate, I’m learning on the fly through self study of government website and legislation. But I suppose that’s what a lawyer’s work is like, and that’s what all the schooling up until now has been about anyway– learning to survive and think for myself, for lack of guidance.
I think it’s something that can be improved though. Getting feedback and training, I mean. The boss is open minded– we’re just figuring out a way to work together still.
All this is to say that I’m pretty lucky to have landed this gig in the first place, so I’m going to give it my all. The market for lawyers in Sydney is really shit right now– it’s apparently the worst year for hiring in a decade. To end up at a place like this? Well, it’s not a big firm– but I only wanted big firms because it would have been the most likely way to get a job.
I’ll take it from here.