Alumni Profile: Grace Ness

Names: Grace Ness
Degree(s): Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of International Studies, Diploma of Languages and Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice.

Why did you choose the University of Adelaide to study?Grace Ness
I finished my schooling in the Northern Territory and afterwards, Adelaide seemed like the perfect fit.  SA and the NT have the same schooling system and lots of my friends were either originally from Adelaide or had family in the state.  When I found out that I had been offered a place in Adelaide, I was very excited as I had heard excellent things about the Law School at Adelaide so was very much looking forward to it.  I had been very lucky to be offered a place at Aquinas College at the same time.

What were the best parts of your degree at the University of Adelaide?
I really enjoyed the collegiate nature of the University.  There were lots of social and sporting events to be involved with.  I particularly enjoyed living at Aquinas College and the great friends I made there.  From an academic perspective, I enjoyed being taught by professionals in the field who had practiced law and who were able to provide practical, real world examples.  I think that practical insight supported my transition into the workforce.

What have you been doing since graduation?
During my final year at university, I was selected to be a clerk at Clayton Utz in Melbourne.  I completed my clerkship during my penultimate year and was selected to be part of the 2014 graduate program. I started my graduate training in the Corporate/ Mergers and Acquisitions team, which gave me a fantastic understanding of corporates and what drives them in the six months I was there.

I then rotated into the litigation team, split between a partner who specialised in general commercial and a partner who specialised in product liability and class actions. Here, I had the opportunity to work on a matter that resulted in a 12 day trial in the Federal Court shortly after I started.  I was the main junior on the matter and was in charge of document management and so many other things.  I was sitting at the bar table with very well-known barristers asking me some very difficult questions – talk about a baptism of fire!

Since then I have settled permanently in the class actions and product liability team, which is my passion.  I have now been with the firm for 2 years and love the culture and work that I have been exposed to.

Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities?
When I was at the University of Adelaide, I was very involved in the college that I attended, Aquinas.  I was on the leadership group there and had responsibility for the care and support of students. Unfortunately, combined with a full time academic load that did not leave me with much time to be involved with further extra-curricular activities directly with the university.

Any tips regarding finding work after graduation?
I would advise all graduates to start seeking out opportunities and experiences early.  I was very focussed on browsing the university bulletins and applying for clerkships, internships and any other sort of workplace experience I could get my hands on. On top of this, I also attended careers fairs and networking events as often as possible to build connections with organisations.

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