When the Interview goes l-awful! (see what I did there?!)

By Georgia Briggs

georgiaBriggsJob interviews, as most people are aware, are some of the hardest and most nerve-wracking things we ever have the pleasure of doing to obtain sweet, sweet financial security. During post law school life, your main objectives are as follows:

  1. Maintain enough money to eat all three meals in a day, only one of which is 2 minute noodles;
  2. Apply for as many jobs as possible. NOTE: variants include whether you wish to only apply for the jobs you would truly kick ass at, or all potential available options of ‘doesn’t require 2-3 PAE’;
  3. GET THAT INTERVIEW!

It all seems a little much (particularly that first one), but after you get the call saying “yes Georgia, we think you’re CV looks like you’re at least somewhat useful” and you agree to a time that “suits you both” (the time actually super doesn’t suit you, but you know what does, working), your heart races. Then you have to think “what do a wear? Hair? Suit? Make-up? Shoes?”

The day of the interview comes and you look a million bucks (hopefully you’ll be earning that much soon). You walk in the door, worrying that you’ll trip in your heels or your tie isn’t straight and put on your best smile.

ANNNNNNNNDDDDD then it goes downhill. Oh yes, today’s entry is one of those times. Another time to learn that not every interview leads to a job, not every interview even leads to you feeling like a competent human being. Some interviews leave you feeling bewildered, uneasy and well to be honest, pretty upset.

You can’t help but get your hopes up when you go for a job interview out of law school. Even if it isn’t your Dream Job, it’s something that will give you experience and money and somewhere to go each day. This could finally be the ‘yes’ after what feels like the long trail of ‘no’s’. How wrong you were. You walk out feeling deflated, annoyed that you moved your day around for the time that “suited you both”, wanting so badly to take your heels off and throw them at the next successful looking person you see. Assault charges won’t help this day, so what do you do?

Do you:

Have a cry? Yes
Feel like the world is coming to an end and no one will ever hire you as a lawyer ever ever ever? Yes
Realise that’s probably not true and get a Boost Juice? Yes
Call a friend and complain about the stupidity of the interview questions? Yes
Impulse shop? Well…. I say yes, but consult your bank account first.
Keep applying for more jobs? Yes
Put this memory away as a helpful reminder for the next interview? Yes
Push a small child off the swing because he’s hogging it? No
Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and put your chin up? Absolutely yes.

IT’S OKAY! That deflated feeling, the feeling that you’ll never get out of that café job that is tiding you over, that you worked all that time getting a law degree to be knocked back from a job that maybe you weren’t that keen on anyway.

An interview of mine not long ago may or may not have been an inspiration for this column, and let me tell you all of the above ‘yes’ answers happened (my newly purchased little plush bear says ‘hi’). Just remember from this tale of woe that rejection via an initial email hurts, but a crummy interview punches right in the law ego (also the gut).  It’s totally fine to feel really crappy for a while, feel a bit hopeless, like maybe a freezer mechanic might be a better career for you (nothing wrong with that job either, I’d pay top money to keep my ice cream cool, bless them), BUT you must carry on. Motherly wisdom is always helpful in life and here is my favourite one, thanks mum:

“It’s okay to have a big fat cry about it, but then you have to stop crying, and tell me what you’re going to do to fix it.”

So go, newly hatched lawyers, and fix it!

A second wind

HONYo

I was the stereotypical kid from Harlem. I was a good student until 4th grade, but then I started going down the wrong path. My friends started making fun of me for raising my hand too much, so I stopped participating in class. Instead of playing on the playground, I followed my friends and went to steal bikes. I had no direction by the time I finished high school. So I decided joined the army. To my surprise, I placed in the 96th percentile on the entrance exam. My superior officer recommended that I stay late and study for advancement, so I did. Then he recommended that I go to City College, so I did. I just finished twenty years of service, and now I want to go to law school. Sometimes I look back and think that the army took the young years of my life. But I was going nowhere. If the army hadn’t taken my youth, I wouldn’t have these older years.

Courtesy of: Humans of New York

 

My first boss used to always tell me I was a unique person

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My first boss used to always tell me I was a unique person because I have a strong creative side and also a strong intellect. He would always say in his experience people are usually one or the other but I had a good mix of both. So I’ve always held on to that.

I moved to Sydney to study a bachelor of design at UNSW but left after a week. I called my parents in tears and moved to Canberra the next day. I just had a realisation moment that my creative side is my outlet/hobby but not my career.

Legends of Law School is a monthly column by Georgia Briggs

I’m Feeling 22!

By Georgia Briggs

georgiaBriggs

Hello lovely people out there who have decided to give my column another read, thank you for coming back. It is my birthday this week, so I’m disappointed that I am yet to receive a gift from you, particularly as I give you the gift of my inner thoughts on a continuing basis (it’s the thought that counts right? Ha ha!)

Anyway, as I become another year older, though not that old really, it gives me a special moment to reflect on the year that was and what I am going to do differently, or exactly the same, in the year to come.

When I look back, a crazy amount of things happened in one year actually:

  • I graduated university and was admitted as a lawyer;
  • I had my 21st birthday party, which was the most kick-ass thing that has ever happened;
  • I went overseas for the first time since I started university in 2012;
  • My Grandma died;
  • I changed jobs from one I had for almost 2 years (a long time in what I refer to as ‘teenage years’ despite not being one anymore);
  • Lost some friends, gained some friends, all of that jazz;
  • Did a month’s work experience at my Dream Job.

But the real question, the one that might in some way (or not) influence some of your own thoughts and actions, is what I want to do differently, or exactly the same, this year.

Differently

  • I have always had an issue with lawyers and law students who conduct themselves as though they’re better and smarter than everyone else. It drives me absolutely crazy. However I’ve noticed this year, that there are times where I have formed an opinion on something, based on a negative view of someone, or a choice they have made. It’s something I think we all do, but I wish I hadn’t let it colour the situation, and influence the relationships I had with people. I think it is an issue, that as young lawyers we can’t help. Generalising (and almost proving my point via hypocrisy) most young lawyers are very hard working, career driven and may have their life planned out clearly. When someone makes a decision that doesn’t fit with your life plan, you think “well that’s a bad decision”. Stop. It’s their decision, and while you cannot help but think it, take the old school approach of “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all” and leave them be. If it doesn’t affect you, IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Despite the fact that you might think your opinion worthy of noting PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO HEAR IT. I know, hurtful, but they don’t, no matter how much you think you’re right. I vow that I will take an “each to their own approach” in the year of 22, and I suggest you do the same. It makes life a whole lot easier too because you’re not worrying about other people’s crap, worry about yours young lawyer!
  • I will try to limit the silly highs and lows of professional (or in the current case, lack of professional) life. A lot of law students and young lawyers can be excited and proud that they work in the area of law. Law is your thing and people go “wow” because they’re impressed and you must be smart and rich and successful and powerful and amazing. Yeeeaahhhh… no. Definitely not always at least. Try not to let this all go to your head, because it makes the knock backs harder and the rejections that happen fairly often in post law school life harder to get back up from. You do have strengths, remember them, thrive off them, develop them, but you do have some god damn weaknesses too. You’re not all-knowing, and (because reality ruins all things) it is not that likely that straight after graduation the Dream Job will call you and say “you’re JUST SO BRILLIANT! We need you and have a huge pay cheque too”. On the flip side, you’re not hopeless, or useless, or forever destined to walk the earth without legal work, so don’t beat yourself up too much. I vow that I will believe in myself and what I have to offer without getting too big for my britches in the year of 22. Don’t expect, but don’t doubt.

Same

  • Last year, though most of the year I forgot to do it, I told myself to do a few new things I hadn’t done before. Now I know what you’re thinking, biggest cliché in the “self-help” and “making myself a better person” playbook. BUT I’m serious, and this is the one thing I am going to continue to do this year, that I want to keep the same. However, I’m not going to tell you to quit your job (seriously, I’m never going to tell you that unless you’ve already signed the contract for the next job), or move interstate, or date the leader of a cult to turn your world upside down, but do little things, things that it will be awesome if you have a fun time, and you’re really no worse off if you have a crap time. Here are some suggestions from random things that I did:
Go and watch a sport you’ve never seen, even if you’re not a sporty person. I watched ice hockey last year on a whim, now own three jerseys for my local team, and contemplating getting a tattoo! (Joking? Serious? You’ll never know).

 

You know that movie that you want to see but you can’t get your friends organised? Go and see it… dun dun dun…. ALONE! Firstly, it’s a movie so when you get in there no-one is going to really notice you’re alone anyway. You can always tell the cashier that your ‘friend’ is running late and you’re going to be sharing that large popcorn you just bought. Secondly, and more importantly, you want to see the damn movie, so why would you wait for your silly friends? Pointless really.

 

Drive (or bus or scooter or roller-coaster) a little out of your comfort zone (suburb, town, city, state) and see what’s out there. Some of the most randomly beautiful or cool places are actually right under your nose. I once drove 15 minutes north of my suburb, which is in the city, and I hit farms! Had a picnic in a beautiful paddock all while still being able to see the infrastructure in the distance.

 

Is there a music concert in your area that sounds vaguely interesting and is cheap as chips? Just go, why not? At least you can say you went, and with or without friends, you can still get a good selfie and a band t-shirt.

 

Attempt a random activity in your local community. You have no idea what is on offer unless you pull your head out of your socks and go try it. Last year I went glassblowing one afternoon, just because. It was so interesting, and awesome, and now I have a funky paperweight that I made all by myself!

 

Volunteering is the best thing ever. You’re going to see me ramble about it a lot because I absolutely adore it! But stop thinking “ah yes sir, I’d like to volunteer as a lawyer” (you were supposed to read that in a very proper voice), and start saying “I love kids, let’s volunteer at a school” “I’d like to help people, let’s volunteer at the hospital” and other awesome things like that. Do something that isn’t you at all, and if you love it – great; if you don’t, better luck next time. Volunteer groups are always so happy to have assistance, even short term, so go look up “University Volunteers Australia” on Facebook and contact them for info (don’t worry, you don’t have to be a university student, it’s just the name, and it caters for people who have heavy commitments).

 

Make something! Anything! Whether it is a half day’s work or a 6 month project, make something. Attempt it, even if you completely stuff it up, you’ll learn something at least. Build a small table (Bunnings has free classes!), sew a pair of pants, bake some cookies and decorate them, make juggling balls from small bags of birdseed inside a balloon! The potential is infinite, and a good way to spend some down time. You can always give them as gifts, sell them at a market or throw them out on garbage night under the cover of darkness. But most importantly you can be proud of making something all by yourself like the clever law person you are.

I hope I have somewhat assisted in your new plans for (micro) world domination! 22 is going to be the best year yet because I am going to get an awesome job, write things for you guys and I’m going to Jamberoo for my party and I’ve never been to a water park before. Wheeeeee!

Until next time!

 

Georgia is a recent graduate from the University of Canberra and at the age of 21 is at the stage of searching for that dream job to lead her from her double degree of Law and Events Management into being a ‘real adult’. Her column “I Object” is a monthly piece about the thoughts, processes, and sometimes (who are we kidding- pretty often) tedious hurdles that post law school life can be.

The plan is to do the Grad Dip of Legal Practice then, once I get admitted, I’ll be applying for permanent residence.

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The plan is to do the Grad Dip of Legal Practice then, once I get admitted, I’ll be applying for permanent residence. Then I think 3 years after that I can apply for citizenship. It’s not that easy, but that’s the general plan.

My dad is supportive of this now. I think he feels the situation is so bad in Pakistan now. When I went home I was there for three weeks and two out of those three weeks the schools were shut because of security threats. Three years ago there was that big attack at the school and then there was one at a university while I was there, so in that sort of situation you sort of think “things aren’t getting better”, so I think he realises it’s a good idea.

Legends of Law School is a monthly column by Georgia Briggs

Her Honour, Magistrate Pauline Spencer

dandenong-magistrates-court

When did you know that you wanted to be a lawyer?

I actually didn’t really know I wanted to a lawyer until I started working in a law firm. When I was finishing school I wanted to be a vet or a physiotherapist. It was the 80s (the time of power suits and the glamour of “LA Law”) and a stint of work experience with a vet confirmed I did not like blood, so I enrolled in Commerce/Law degree. Given the way law was taught back then, law school seemed so unconnected with real life. It was not until I got a part time job in a law firm doing personal injuries cases and started to meet with injured workers and their families that I realised the law could assist people. It was then that I decided I wanted to be a lawyer.

What attracts you most to the profession of law?
So at first it was helping individual people, then I worked on a few cases that had broader social implications and I was attracted to the law as a tool for broader systemic change. It was important though to build my skills as a lawyer. I think it was Justice Kirby who once said that if you want to use the law to make change then you have to be a good lawyer first and foremost.

If you had your time again, would you choose to practice in law? If not, what else would you choose to do?
I think I would be a lawyer again. I would love to go to law school now with the new focus on teaching social context and therapeutic jurisprudence. I do worry about the graduates coming out of law school now given how hard it is to find graduate positions and sustain a living in the industry.

What was the single moment, case or event that you feel defined you as a lawyer?
I can’t think of a single moment and I wonder whether this idea of the heroic lawyer with THE big case is healthy for lawyers. For me the types of moments that defined me as a lawyer were when I was able to show compassion to someone who needed my assistance. Maybe it’s these little moments that lawyers should celebrate more. They can happen every day if you choose to practice in that way.

If you could only give one bit of advice to new lawyers, what would it be?
Try to expose yourself to as a many experiences as possible before you decide which area of the law you want to focus on. The law is so diverse and it takes a while to find out what will excite and sustain you.

What is your best tip for maintaining sanity in the law?
It might be hard but try to find a job that you love where you feel you can make a difference. If you can’t find that job then try to make a difference outside of your day job e.g. volunteering at a community legal centre advice night.

What will the legal profession look like in twenty five years time?
Lawyers in all areas of the law will work in multi-disciplinary teams where the lawyer will work with social workers, financial counsellors, drug counsellors to deal not only with the legal problem but with the impacts of the law on the individual and the broader community. Their work will be informed by the law but also other disciplines like addiction medicine and behavioural science. Therapeutic jurisprudence, the maximisation of the therapeutic impacts of the design of the law, legal process and the roles of legal actors, will become part and parcel of how lawyers work.

Her Honour was appointed as a Magistrate with the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria in 2006. She currently sits at Dandenong Magistrates’ Court one of Victoria’s busiest mainstream courts. Her Honour previously worked in as a lawyer in private practice and in the community legal centre movement. Prior to her appointment, she was the Executive Officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres, the peak body for over 50 community legal centres in Victoria. Her Honour has an interest in therapeutic jurisprudence; improved responses to family violence; and improving connections between the court and the community. She is a member of the Advisory Group for the International Therapeutic Jurisprudence in the Mainstream Project: www.mainstreamtj.wordpress.com