Elisa is a corporate lawyer specialising in Energy & Resources at Minter Ellison. Elisa’s legal career of 5 years has been full of adventures she never imagined a legal career could provide. Elisa spent a significant amount of time in China in her first two years of practice dealing specifically with wholly owned Chinese companies wanting to break into the Australian corporate world. Despite loving the travel, Adelaide has always been called home.
So… what do you actually do?
5.45am alarm goes off. ‘Snooze’ occurs every morning without fail. I will manage to drag myself out of bed on maybe one occasion. 6.45am Up, shower, hair, makeup, try not to make too many trips up and down the stairs, they are brutal in the morning, check weather, dress accordingly, fill take-away coffee cup and rush out the door between 7.45am and 8am. Walk into work with my fiancée and chat about our days ahead all the while by subconscious is organising my day in my mind (which usually never seems to go as planned). 8.30am-8.45am arrive at work. Every day at work is very different but one thing that is a constant is the amount of time spent in front of the computer reviewing documents. Hard copy documents are becoming less prevalent as we try to move towards a paperless office. I personally still prefer to have the document in front of me. Creature of habit I guess. So if I am not reading emails, reviewing documents or drafting documents, I am in client meetings working through our client’s next opportunity or through the stage (whatever that may be) of a transaction that is on the go. As I specialise in Energy & Resources, legislation and in particular the mining act in South Australia is consulted almost on a daily basis. It provides the basis for a lot of the advice I give. Officially, I finish the day at 5.15pm, but rarely do I keep these hours. 6.30pm is usually around the time, I log my units for the day (yes my working life is broken down into 6 minute units) and walk home and before my fiancée and I head to the gym during which I plan dinner and the rest of my night in front of the ipad and television. 10.30pm is bed time.
How did you get to your position of being an associate lawyer?
The day law student’s graduate is not the day we become lawyers. In order to be eligible for admission to the Supreme Court of South Australia an applicant must be of good character and have met the admission requirements of the Supreme Court Rules among others. If you are successful in your application, which most are, you attend an admission hearing in the Supreme Court where you stand up in front of your family, judges and the practitioner moving your admission (who is dressed in the formal court attire for the ceremony) and pledge your allegiance to the Court. You then sign the role of practitioners enrolling you as a practitioner of the Supreme Court of South Australia. It is then you can apply for a practicing certificate. You cannot practice as a lawyer if you do not have one of these! Your date of admission is an important date. This is the date your experience as a lawyer starts, and it is the date which dictates (for the most part) when you are eligible to be promoted or considered for promotion to the next level. Lawyers are promoted to Associates who are promoted to Senior Associates and then Partners. Sometimes Senior Associates are promoted to Special Counsel rather than Partner but this will differ from place to place.
Promotions are not made solely on your post admission experience, they also take into account your performance and technical ability.
As you get promoted higher up the ranks towards Partner (if that is something that you desire) your performance and technical ability become more important. Making your budget from month to month is very important.
I was promoted to Associate at the end of 2012 but it became effective 1 January 2013.
Have you always wanted to work in the legal Industry?
Yes. It is so much broader than people realise and can provide so much opportunity to take the path less travelled. Always an enticing and exciting option to me.
What do you love about your role?
The challenges are endless. I love a challenge.
In your current role, what has been your biggest achievement?
I only moved across to Minters about a month ago, so there haven’t been any big achievements yet. There are a few exciting things in the pipeline that I think will be up there.
Over your career, what has been your ‘love this’ moment?
Being able to work a transaction through from beginning to end. The sense of accomplishment following all that hard work is definitely something that makes me love this role.
What would be the least favorite aspect of your role?
Work life balance is really important to me as it is to most people. Being able to achieve that balance most of the time is something you really have to work at. No being able to achieve that balance all the time is my least favorite aspect of the industry. Spending as much time with my family and friends is extremely important to me and necessary because it brings me so much happiness.
Any advice for anyone aspiring to work in the legal industry?
Be proactive. The legal market in terms of being able to get a job in a law firm or company is difficult. The earlier you get some hands on experience (paid or unpaid) the more opportunity you are giving yourself to stand out from the masses and be someone that is desirable for a potential employer.
Love reading Elisa’s career journey and just shows what a little bit of hard work and eager to take on a challenge can do for your career. Any questions about the legal industry or for Elisa? Please join the conversation below.