Joshua Wong is a solicitor with the NSW Trustee & Guardian (NSWTG), a state government agency which administers deceased estates and provides financial management for some of the most vulnerable people in NSW. Wong has helped establish and manage a new team within NSWTG providing an in-house conveyancing service to assist clients. Wong discusses his career and insights with us.
Why did you pursue a career in law?
I studied law and philosophy at the University of Sydney, but I didn’t think I was a particularly academic type. I enjoyed the challenge of studying law but when I left, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. I went travelling, lived overseas and eventually came back to complete my PLT. I had the opportunity to work with very passionate and experienced lawyers at a busy property law practice. It was there that I was really thrown into the deep end. I didn’t particularly seek out property law, but it suited me. I’ve developed skills in project management, negotiation, understanding the market and working on real life practical issues.
What are the biggest issues the legal profession is facing today?
Coming to grips with the mental health crisis in the legal profession. I learnt early on that the legal profession is competitive, demanding and a high-pressure environment. I think a lot of graduates aren’t really prepared for that. I also think COVID-19 has forced a cultural shift away from traditional modes of working. We have to re-look at the system and be open to changing how we work, billables, and where work fits into our lives.
How did COVID-19 affect you?
Fortunately, property law is quite well-suited to working from home, as in 2019 a lot of property settlements moved online. Technology and the digital revolution hit property law at the perfect time, so the pandemic didn’t have a huge detrimental impact on our practice.
Do you have any advice for lawyers seeking to follow a similar path?
Keep an open mind, be curious and jump at every opportunity. You need a balance of technical skills and softer skills such as project management. Those softer skills are sometimes more important than being able to recite large pieces of legislation. I didn’t really have a set idea of my direction, but I was given interesting bits of work, great mentors and built my skills from there. I learnt a lot by taking on different clients and working across different jurisdictions.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
My current role at NSWTG is incredibly rewarding. I manage the new in-house property law and conveyancing service. It’s definitely been a step up acting in a management role and building a professional and efficient team within government. I’m still learning, but I think my previous experience set me up well. Prior to working as a lawyer, I worked overseas which exposed me to a lot of different cultures and ways of working. A huge element of my role is keeping a lot of different balls in the air and working with people from different backgrounds.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My partner and I are proud dog parents to a miniature dachshund. We got her just before COVID, which was perfect timing. At the moment, both of our lives pretty much revolve around the dog. We take her everywhere we can. Outside of that, I’m also a pretty keen skier but I don’t see myself going overseas anytime soon. I also play guitar, but I’m not very good. And, to be honest, I didn’t improve during lockdown.