Six surprising jobs you can get with a law degree

24 Jul 2020 | 7 MINS

From joining legal practices around the world and shaping policy nationally, to becoming educators and starting up businesses to address global challenges, our law graduates go places. 

We caught up with six alumni to hear where their law degrees have taken them.

 

 

Wygene Chong

Wygene Chong
International Policy, Department of Defence

I’ve worked in defence strategic and international policy since 2018. This is a challenging and exciting space. In just a week, you can range from analysing Australia’s strategic interests on an issue to preparing for an international dialogue, delivering policy advice for an Australian Defence Force operation and drafting a proposal for government consideration. 

It’s incredibly diverse work. You’re often required to think, write and speak under pressure in constantly changing circumstances. This is where the skills you pick up in Law School – such as critical analysis, clarity of thought, attention to detail and persuasive advocacy – have real value. 

And, despite the challenges, the opportunity to directly shape the course of international affairs makes this job deeply rewarding. 

P.S. Life in Canberra is seriously underrated.

 

 

Laura DarchLaura Darch
Senior Project Officer – West Pilbara Plan, Aboriginal Outcomes, Department of Communities

I never thought I’d be working in government when I commenced my legal studies at UWA but fate has a way of leading us down the right path. 

I began my government career in 2012 while I was studying law at UWA. I commenced a cadetship with the Attorney-General’s Commonwealth Department. I spent 7.5 years working away each summer break for 12 weeks. I was given the opportunity to work on a range of incredible projects and policy development in areas of human rights, national security and criminal law. 

Upon finishing my law degree at UWA, I was given the opportunity to start work at the Department of Health and was able to work in various policy and project areas I never thought possible with a law degree. The degree provided me with a strong skill set that is sought after in policy development within the Department of Health but also in other areas of government. 

I worked on various Aboriginal health policies and projects, which is a strong interest of mine, having an Indigenous background. This experience provided me with the opportunity to work for the Department of Communities. 

My UWA law degree enabled opportunities within areas of work I never thought possible. Take every opportunity and keep an open mind, as it can lead you to most incredible career experiences. 

 

 

Richard WinterRichard Winter
Director, Solar River Project

I am general counsel, director and company secretary of the Solar River Project, an Australian utility-scale renewable energy developer. I also run my own incorporated legal practice, plus tutor various law subjects at UWA. My law degree is in constant use. 

Day to day, I can be working as general counsel negotiating project documents, liaising with government agencies, advising on litigious matters or representing the project or my various other clients across Australia and around the world in negotiations, settlements and closing deals. 

My experience and knowledge as a lawyer allows me to be a very effective and valuable company director, by leading commercial and strategic initiatives and applying clear legal thinking and project management skills, while navigating the web of legal and regulatory compliance matters.  

Most importantly, my law degree is helping me make a real difference in addressing climate change and helping create lasting and environmentally sustainable jobs for Australia.     

 

 

Courtney FurnerCourtney Furner
Associate (International Arbitration) at LALIVE, Zürich


After graduating, I worked at an international law firm in Perth. After a few years with the firm, I wanted to gain greater exposure to the Australian judicial system, so I undertook a judicial associateship at the Supreme Court of Western Australia. I then moved to Geneva, Switzerland, to complete an LL.M. in international dispute settlement.  Following my graduation, I started working at LALIVE, a Swiss boutique law firm specialising in cross-border dispute resolution.

The most interesting aspect of my career is working with diverse teams on challenging international cases. At LALIVE, teams are not fixed but rather comprise different groups of lawyers depending on the subject matter, the industry, the applicable jurisdiction, as well as language requirements of the case at hand. There is much to learn from, and fun to be had when working intensely with, those of different legal, cultural, linguistic and personal backgrounds. I am privileged to work with colleagues who are not only talented in what they do, but from whom one learns more about the world. Who knows where the career can go from here.

 

 

Aidan RicciardoAidan Ricciardo
Legal academic, UWA Law School

I knew from my very first semester at Law School that I wanted to be a lecturer. I love learning about fascinating new concepts, thinking about them in depth and discussing them with people who are just as interested in them as I am. I now get to do these things every day as part of my job. 

My teaching and research focus on the interesting areas of health law and evidence law, which were my two favourite subjects when I studied my law degree. Law school was such an enriching, enjoyable and worthwhile time for me and now my role allows me to create that same experience for the next generations of UWA law students who I teach. I pursued a career in academia because I’ve always felt quite good at sharing my enthusiasm for the law with others and helping people understand complex legal principles. 

I suppose I just followed a path that let me do what I enjoy and what I think I’m good at, and I’m thankful that my UWA law degree has equipped me with the skills required to do that well.  

 

 

Larissa WelmansLarissa Welmans
Associate at Clifford Chance and past Associate to a judge of the Court of Appeal

An Associateship with a judge is a job about which I only heard once I began my law degree at UWA. When I found out that it was possible to apply to be what is, in effect, a legal assistant to a judge, I almost couldn’t believe it.

Upon graduation, I was fortunate enough to be offered an Associateship with a judge of the WA Court of Appeal and it ended up being even more amazing than I had imagined - it provided me with the most incredible learning experience of my life. Not infrequently, I found myself in court with a front row seat to the making and altering of State (and Federal) law.

My law degree provided the necessary foundation for me to perform my role as an Associate. The skills I developed at university helped me to support my judge as he decided varied and difficult cases. For example, they enabled me to research and analyse the surrounding law as to whether and/or how it should apply, which I then brought to bear in discussing and engaging with those cases and proofreading judgments determining them.

I am so grateful for my path to date, from a law degree at UWA to an Associateship at the WA Court of Appeal, which I believe will set me up well for a future career in the legal profession.

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