5-minute Q&A with Bond Law School graduate
5-minute Q&A with a Bond Law School graduate
Meet Rod McLennan. He graduated in 2015 with a law degree from Bond University. We recently blitzed him with a 5-minute Q&A, and here are his responses!
What are the 5 best things about studying at an Australian law school?
1. In my experience, because of the common law system, there are significant similarities between jurisdictions such as England, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong etc. The similarities can vary depending on your practice area. Areas of the law such as commercial litigation, property and tort law can be remarkably similar.
2. Bond Law’s teaching style and impressive professors were instrumental in making me a proficient lawyer. They had incredible professional experience to help share with us to illustrate the legal principles we were learning, but it gave us insights into the issues we would face as a professional through some fascinating stories. For example, my Corporations Law professor was a high-profile New York lawyer and handled the bankruptcy of Enron. He was also on his previous firm’s articling committee and gave fantastic advice as to what they looked for in law students.
3. You are going to be, or at least should be, logging some significant hours while at law school. Australia’s surroundings and weather are so beautiful it provides the perfect study break when possible to keep your spirits up during the grind of law school. There are so many unique experiences you can have in Australia when you have a free weekend. Whether that be watching a cricket, rugby, tennis or an F1 event, seeing the Great Barrier Reef, surfing, visiting world-class wineries are just some of the things Australia offers. When you are about to dive into a career as professional, law school is one of the last times you are going to have the freedom to explore the world more regularly and I’d recommend you take advantage of that time wherever you study.
4. At Bond, I was offered a variety of domestic internships at law firms. Most of these law firms were in the Gold Coast or Brisbane, but there were some throughout Australia and Asia. For example, in 2015 I interned at Dacheng Dentons in Shanghai, which was the largest law firm in the world. Before articling, Canadian law students only have law clinics and summer student positions to apply for and the latter of those are typically only available to the students at the top of their class. Many firms don’t even have summer positions.
5. While you are facing a hurdle coming from a foreign jurisdiction, it is not that dissimilar from a student coming from another province. Students applying for articling positions are constantly differentiated based on several different considerations. The jurisdiction you are coming from will be a factor, but so are your grades, resume, interview and references from any legal work experience. Arguably those other factors are more important than the jurisdiction.
When you are securing an articling position, it is your job to convince the hiring committee why you will be able to walk into the firm and succeed with the assignments you are given. You need to use your strong work ethic, grades and work experience to reason why you will do that. An articling student, even if they went to a local law school, knows very little when they begin at a firm. The firms know you are going to learn and develop over several years at the beginning of your career as a lawyer. You must convince them why your development will be faster and you will succeed more along the way than the next person!
What are the 3 worst things about studying at an Australian law school?
1. You have to work really hard to network when you come back since you aren’t in the province you want to practice in. The best steps you can take to do this are to reach out to lawyers in the city you want to practice in and arrange telephone calls as well as in-person meetings.
2. When you come back, you may have to accept an articling position you aren’t set on. Don’t look at your articling position as the firm you will spend the rest of your career at—that is extremely rare these days. Transitioning to a firm that is a better fit for you is not only possible, but also highly recommended. Associate lawyers of year 2–5 call are in high demand and doors to a range of firms should be open to you.
3. Extra NCA exams to write can add a 6–12 months after your degree. I would recommend trying to also obtain some experience either at a law firm or related body. I worked in the litigation department of an insurance company, which was an invaluable experience for my career.
Q: Where are you working now?
A: I’m at a mid-size firm where I’m respected and highly valued. Larger firms can offer more prestigious clients, but not necessarily better compensation. Working at those firms have some benefits and some drawbacks you need to consider. I have gained extensive trial experience and appeared not only in the B.C. Supreme Court, but also in the Supreme Court of Canada. I work in the areas of insurance defence, construction litigation, constitutional and indigenous law.
Q: What about networking?
A: Networking seems awkward, but the legal world is very traditional and people are open and giving of their time and mentorship. You need to get yourself practicing lawyers in a face-to-face meeting or at least on the phone to get advice and see if an opportunity presents itself.
Q: What are articling recruiters looking for?
A: It can be very difficult starting out to get an articling position. You need to demonstrate that you are a strong candidate on paper (your grades and resume) as well as that you are going to function well as a member of the team. They want to know you as a person and have you on their team based on who you are. Showing you have certain passions, interests, and that you can present yourself well will go a long way.
Your academics and work experience get you the interview, and how you handle yourself gets you the rest of the way. Finally, people hiring articling students want to see that you have strong passions and interests outside of the legal profession. They want to see that you invest time in the things you care about and overall that you are a go-getter.
Q: Why did you want to study law?
A: I grew up in a family of lawyers and having a job that is ever-changing excites me. No file you work on as a lawyer is ever the same and that is especially true when you straddle multiple practice areas. It is constantly challenging and forces you to stay current with any changes in case law or legislation. I am a competitive person, and while you cannot ever allow that characteristic to influence your professional opinion, it can be a great motivator to put in extra work for your client. Being a lawyer is just a great fit for my interests and overall I think it is a profession you can be proud of taking on.
Study at Bond Law School
Recognized as one of the top-ranked Australian law schools, Bond Law School has earned a reputation for its innovative teaching methods, international focus, skills training, and the outstanding success of its graduates. The Juris Doctor is a graduate-level, extensive skills program with small class sizes. It is an accelerated program, which means it can be completed in two years of full-time study.
Program: Juris Doctor (JD)
Location: Gold Coast, Queensland
Intakes: January, May, September
Next available intake: September 2020 (may begin your studies online!)*
Duration: 2 years
Completed bachelor’s degree
You must have a completed undergraduate degree. Please note, all applications are assessed individually and upon merit, and there are no limits or quotas on how many students Bond Law accepts. The university will review your academic history and performance, looking for your cGPA (approximately 70%) as well as grade progression and consistency. The application also requires you to submit a resume and personal statement.