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March 8, 2015

The Legal Profession; not just a job

by dankrogers

Benjamin Prindable Photo-9480

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking at the Queensland Law Society Awards Night. The night recognised the most recent graduates of the College of Law program; students who are about to be admitted as legal professionals. In my speech, I tried to emphasise that law graduates are extremely lucky and privileged to embark upon a career which can be full of personal reward. The opportunities are endless and your career is whatever you choose to make it. Queensland’s Chief Magistrate, His Honour Judge Rinaudo also spoke about tips he wished he had known during his career as a solicitor.

Benjamin Prindable Photo-8330

In my view, if you want to achieve a truly rewarding career in the law, you will only find this through a broader involvement in the law. A focus on the job of individual cases as an employee of a private firm or a government department will only take you so far. It is important for young lawyers to keep in mind a broader conception of their profession.

All lawyers, because of their knowledge of the law and because of their privileged position in society, have a responsibility to contribute to the community, to law reform and to social justice initiatives. Doing this is very rewarding but it also frames your actual legal practice; making you more aware of the broader implications of laws, your clients’ legal issues and how best they can be resolved.

Many young lawyers have noble aspirations to be a human rights lawyer. Most of these idolise the prospect of working as a human rights lawyer for the United Nations in The Hague. I was lucky to have had such an experience in 2012 when I worked at the International Criminal Court in the Office of the Public Counsel for Defence.

The overseas experience was amazing on many levels but it also provided me with some context in terms of the advantages and disadvantages of working internationally. It made me realise that for a young lawyer, a solid domestic grounding is very important. Also, if someone wants to engage in human rights work, you don’t need to go to The Hague. There are many great human rights lawyers and human rights projects right here in Brisbane.

1. If you’re interested in human rights; join the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights organisation
2. If you’re sickened by the thought of the impending Bali executions; join the organisation, Australians against capital punishment
3. If you feel Australia’s detention of kids in immigration detention centres is appalling; join the Refugee Action Collective in Queensland
4. If your passionate about women’s rights and the eradication of domestic violence, volunteer at the Women’s Legal Service at Annerley

Domestic work can be just as exciting as the international arena. Look at your legal career as more than a job but rather; as an opportunity to be a voice or a leader in the community. With advances in medical technology, my generation will probably work until we are at least 80 years of age. Therefore, we must shape a career we enjoy and that is truly rewarding.

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