Next Steps Seminar Series with Dr Joanna Howe

Dr Joanna Howe (Adelaide Law School), Heather Stokes (Legoe Chambers); Sean Richter (Mitchell Chambers); Jane Abbey (Len King Chambers); and Stephen Mitchell (Anthony Mason Chambers). Nicholas Lee (AULSS rep).

This semester the Next Steps Seminar Series has been a prominent feature of the Law School timetable. This Series is convened by Dr Joanna Howe, in conjunction with the AULSS, and seeks to provide our students with the inside knowledge on how to best pursue their professional careers post Law School and with crucial contacts and networking opportunities with legal practitioners. With three Law Schools in South Australia, this program aims to provide our students with an edge in the marketplace and with confidence on how to transition from Law School to the profession. We have held four seminars this semester, with each attracting a strong turnout of between 70-90 students.

The first seminar in the Next Steps series for semester two was a special evening session on the topic of ‘Women and the Law’. The Moot Court was packed to capacity to hear our panel of six distinguished South Australian practitioners: Judge Sue Cole (District Court), Claire O’Connor (Anthony Mason Chambers), Kerry Morrow (Laity Morrow), Leah Marrone (Legal Service’s Commission and Young Workers Legal Service), Rose-Marie Read (Elliot Johnston Chambers) and Michelle Evans (Santos).

Many students commented on how refreshing it was to hear women practitioners share openly about their career trajectories and the associated highs and lows. The session concluded with an opportunity for our students to meet the panel over wine and cheese.

This was followed by two lunch time sessions, the first of which, was on the topic of CV writing and interview skills. We timed this session to coincide with when many of our students are embarking on clerkship and graduate interviews. We are grateful to the University Careers Service for assisting with the organisation of this session.

A third Next Steps seminar was held on the topic of ‘From Law School to Solicitor – Making the Transition’. This session sought to demystify the journey from Law School into the profession and provided practical advice on job seeking, the MCPD program and GDLP requirements. The Law Society’s Education Manager, Graeme Jobling provided crucial information on these topics, ably assisted by the Acting Dean of Law, David Brown who provided insight into how our graduates can be more career-ready at the time of their graduation. Two former Adelaide Law School graduates, Gabrielle Golding and Sam Hooper of Tindall Gask Bentley Lawyers, provided invaluable personal stories of their transition from Law School into the profession.

In the fourth event of the Next Steps series “Going to the Bar”, students were invited to attend an evening with four prominent South Australian barristers. Attendees were able to mingle with each other and the barristers over a drink before a panel, hosted by AULSS representative Nicholas Lee, allowed each barrister to give their perspective on going to the bar. Heather Stokes opened the evening with advice about the practicality of going to the bar for new lawyers, touching on practicing certificates and the bar readers course. She also regaled our students with stories from her high profile cases, including those of Kelly Lee Pearman and Zialloh Abrahimzadeh. Sean Richter followed on from Heather reiterating the enjoyment and challenges of being a barrister predominantly in criminal law. Sean’s analogy to a barrister being a surgeon and a solicitor being a GP seem to resonate well with our students and cut through some of the confusion between the roles of each position. Jane Abbey gave a paced and well-reasoned speech on her journey to the bar, which countered parts of the previous speaker’s personalities and beneficial claims of being an extrovert. She continued by giving crucial advice about the importance of practical experience being both necessary, and complementing a legal education. Stephen Mitchell finished off the panel with a talk on his journey as a young lawyer who transitioned from firm to chambers including the associated risk and excitement this provided. He also vocalised issues of the current job market affecting recent and upcoming graduates as well as the need to seek out involvement in as many relevant areas as possible.

All in all, the Next Steps seminar series has been very busy this semester but gratefully received by the student body. We have greatly appreciated the support from the South Australian legal profession which has made this series possible.

Dr Joanna Howe
Lecturer, Adelaide Law School

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