The alternative entry-level lawyer

by Charlie du Bois


So I’m sitting in the middle of my admission at the Supreme Court, thinking of the series of announced congratulatory sentiments, both past and impending. I’m looking at my principal lawyer knowing exactly what he’s going to say to attest to my good character to the honourable judges of the bench, and there is a grand spark of absolute pride that must go through all imminently-admitted attendees. We all nostalgically recall the boundless anxieties and full-blown emotional and mental straining sourced from us and that was sustained by those who know them dearly, and remembering the ball of irritable and twitchy obscenity we all experienced, that at times required the keenest of eyes to discern the studious, odorous and wretched shell before them from the personable and warm person they knew previous.

These incredible hurdles surpassed, and a long seven years behind me (I dawdled to admission, to be quite frank) I did however feel conflicted. I already had a job, I was heavily involved and integrated into one of the more recognisable national firms, albeit, a “TodayTonight-appearing” type of firm, and the position actually allowed for quite a bit of travel to conferences and capital cities around our grand country. And through the slightest of clicks, I would be allowed leave whimsically, just like the ludicrous 4-day weekend I attended in Byron Bay for a basketball tournament this past weekend.

But I’m not a lawyer. Admitted as I may be, practising I am not. I’ve been sent magically into uncharted territory for my firm for a particular area of injury law to pick up business where others have failed before me, contracted as a law clerk to first prove myself as an asset.

I tried my hand at the traineeship gig previously, but like any good broken-hearted scumbag, firm and I “mutually” decided we weren’t right for each other.. …

Alas, I threatened departure!! Yes dear reader!! Your rugged protagonist asserted his youthful and brutal boldness, and in his mightiest of man-vocal (see: Whimper) indicated his desire to leave the city to which he called home for the past 7 years, escaping failure of career and relationship alike (the latter is another story you can read on another blog: “The Beautiful women of Charlie du Bois”).

What resulted was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Different role, different city, with a promise within my contract to cover my admission, practice certification, and employ me as a lawyer on the basis of my performance in this new area.

NOW! “Performance?” I hear you mumble. Yes, a good question, and one that is still present within my vocabulary unfortunately. While I entered into this contract full of vim and vigour, excited to get out of the last capital and into another, a raise and moving costs and pretty little clauses and gym-membership and the rest of it, the Smith v Hughes intention of both parties about what “performance” actually involved has been lost in translation through the turnover of superiors and redefinitions by interested parties, which is many considering the interstate nature of my role. Interesting at this point to also note that while I’m pushing for a career-progression from law clerk, that my work goes largely unchecked as I deal with matters, only calling on my interstate supervisor for matters which are immediately overly complex or confronting.

Another concern being that the principal lawyer I mention above, being the ultimate decision maker about my employment as a lawyer, has the same amount or focus/concern on my position as I do about the
brand of toilet paper I buy, even though I love him and his style as much as he’ll call some brown-nose expletive out on being a brown-nose expletive (see what I did there?).

So what to do in a position like this?

Take advantage.

I have worked my sweet-little-tucus off to build up a now impressive client base, spread the word of this unique area of personal injury law, and have penetrated a market which seems needed someone like me to do the hard yards and find the gold in ‘dem ‘der hills.

I spent six months pre-admission doing the 8am-7pm shifts during the week, taking advantage of the autonomy to announce myself in the legal community in my new city, and really take big strides for my self and my firm. And on my weekends, I’ve tried to use my new money and new singledom (again, see blog “tBWoCdB”) and explore this amazing country of ours.

But is that simply all I want? Is that what I studied 5, nearly 6 years to accomplish? This great role and opportunity, unfortunately for me, means little if it means that all that I’ve set out to become is kept from me during an argument concerning a contractual term. There is still no timeline on when I will be employed as a lawyer in my current firm. I have my own timeline though, and plans from A-F, and hopefully that youthful boldness to plunge into the undertaking of plans B onwards if need be.