Newcastle-raised Jessie Porteus will never forget her first legal showdown. At 15, as part of her high school’s mock trial team, she prosecuted a person charged with assault, using a pool cue as a weapon at a pub. From that moment, Porteus decided law was the career for her and three years ago she was one of 12,000 students to graduate with a law degree. In 2012, she graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons Class 1), Diploma of Legal Practice and Bachelor of Economics. According to Graduate Careers Australia, the number of law graduates has almost doubled since 2001. About 70 per cent land jobs. Porteus, the eldest daughter of a family of mostly teachers and musicians, started juggling studyat the University of Newcastle with work experience at the Director of Public Prosecutions and a part time job as a cheerleader with the Newcastle Knights. She has just finished an 18-month graduate training program at King & Wood Mallesons. Now 25, she is part of the litigation team that deals with intellectual property. JANE SOUTHWARD steps inside her world.
I have no relatives working in law. My mum and aunts are teachers, as were two of my grandparents. It’s no wonder I was always interested in education and thought I would also be a teacher.
Then in Year 10 at St Pius X in Newcastle and in Year 11 at St Francis Xavier’s College, I was in the schools’ mock trial teams and fell in love with law. I loved going to court, working on the arguments and being part of a team building a case.
Performance has always been an important part of my life. I have danced since I was five and did physical culture up until I was 18. When I started studying law at the University of Newcastle I was a Newcastle Knights cheerleader. It was at my inaugural cheerleading performance in 2007 that Andrew Johns was injured so badly he ended up retiring.