Law firms are diversifying, accounting firms want lawyers, and a rise in legal technology is creating new jobs for law graduates, students were told at a sell-out law careers fair in Sydney on 29 March.
More than 1500 law students from universities across NSW packed into the International Convention Centre for the 2019 Sydney Law Careers Fair, which is an annual event hosted by the Law Society of NSW and NSW Young Lawyers. It was the biggest turnout in the fair’s history, as presenters from more than 40 organisations including top-tier law firms and Australia’s big banks offered career advice and information to students. Many presenters emphasised the growing number of roles available to graduates in a diversifying legal market.
Manager of NSW Young Lawyers and Graduate Services, Victoria Graves said that the fair provided a unique opportunity for students to speak to young lawyers who had walked the same path as them and had experience in the various professions they chose to pursue.
“The legal industry is changing rapidly, and new jobs are emerging in different organisations, so choosing a career path can seem quite overwhelming for students,” said Graves. “The great thing about the law careers fair is that each organisation sends representatives to speak with the students and answer their questions.
“The feedback we have received is that students learn far more about working in the law from face to face interaction with young lawyers than they ever could from a website or pamphlet.”
Where law graduates have perhaps been disheartened in past years by news stories of an “oversupply” of law graduates in what was thought to be a shrinking jobs market, there was excitement in the air at this year’s fair. Many were encouraged by news that Australia’s top-tier firms were upping their graduate intake numbers after the explosion in work due to the 2018 banking royal commission, and that other businesses like consulting and accounting firms were developing dedicated legal departments.
Plenty of attendees noted that technology and coding skills were increasingly seen as valuable skills for graduates in a competitive legal jobs market.
“I’m really interested in information technology and am focusing on cyber law in my PhD thesis,” said final-year post-graduate law student Callum Ingram, 25. Ingram said he hoped to find a role in a “forward-thinking” firm that emphasised the importance of integrating legal technology with business processes.
Tiana Gordon, a fourth-year journalism/law student who travelled from the University of Wollongong to attend the fair, said she was “leaning towards” a career in criminal law.
“I like the people side of law, I was an intern at Legal Aid in their summer clerkship program and really enjoyed it,” said Gordon. “I know jobs for law graduates are really competitive so I’m here at the fair to learn how I might get ahead.”
Those who missed attending the fair can download a 130-page guide to legal graduate jobs, known as the 2018-19 Law Guide. The presentations will shortly be available to student associate members of the Law Society of NSW. Membership is free. Go to legalvitae.com.au for more information and to apply for clerkships and graduate roles.