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Rhiannon Auld is a proud Wonnarua woman of the Hunter Valley region. Auld graduated from the University of Wollongong in 2020 with a Bachelor of Laws and International Studies. She currently works as a solicitor at Terri Janke and Company representing and protecting the rights of First Nations people. Auld discusses her passion for community and provides some helpful tips to emerging lawyers.

Why did you decide to pursue law?

It was mainly a way for me to challenge myself personally. When I was deciding what career to pursue at high school, it always centred around helping others. I wanted a meaningful career and to work with community. A law degree seemed like a good way to do that. It is a very versatile degree and offers many different pathways. One of the main reasons I chose law was to be able to take care of my family. I wanted to make them proud and to be a good role model for my younger brother. I am the first in my family (alongside my twin sister) to graduate from university.

What are you most proud of?

It would have to be the work that I do at Terri Janke and Company. I’m really proud of the work that we do. Terri gives us the knowledge and experience to make a difference socially, economically and within the law. I love that I get to work with our people and break the mould in terms of how different industries and sectors respect and centre First Nations voices. I’m honestly proud of every single piece of work we deliver. Whether that’s drafting a contract or interacting with clients. Our firm is passionate about protecting First Nations people’s rights. At university, I never imagined I would end up working in intellectual property but now I see it can be used to protect the rights of First Nations people to culture.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your legal career?

Public speaking has been the biggest hurdle I’ve had to overcome. I think it’s something that a lot of people can relate to. I had to overcome it quite quickly as a lot of our work involves giving guest lectures, keynotes and podcasts. I never thought of myself as a natural public speaker, but I’ve been able to overcome that working at Terry Janke and Company. They’ve given me the tools and the knowledge to really excel in different aspects. Public speaking is something that I enjoy now, not only because it’s about educating people but it’s also a good way to meet new people and learn from them.

What has been a particular career highlight?

A particular career highlight would be the work that I do in drafting protocol in the education and curriculum space to change the way that they engage with First Nations people and culture. It’s really different from the work that I’ve done previously. It’s not only about working with clients on an individual level, but it’s also about making structural change in the way that people do business, to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are celebrated and respected and the benefits are flowing back to the community.

Do you have any advice for emerging lawyers such as yourself?

I think it’s really important that emerging lawyers work in a space that they’re proud of. Any person who’s pursuing a career in law, whether they’re still studying or working in a firm, is going to face pressure and demands. Make sure you work in a space that you’re proud of whether that’s commercial law, family law, personal injury law, human rights or any other area of law that interests you. You’ll surprise yourself as to what you’re capable of when you’re passionate about what you’re doing. It’s also important to back yourself and communicate with your colleagues and mentors if you’re struggling with feelings of self-doubt.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy so many things! Mostly travelling, whether that’s domestic or international. I’m really lucky that I can do that with my job because Terri Janke and Company operates all throughout Australia and internationally. In my spare time, I like going camping with my partner, visiting new places and meeting new people. When I’m not travelling, I’m reading a book. At the moment I’m reading Where The Fruit Falls by Karen Wyld. It’s important to be able to switch off. There is always more work to be done but it’s important to find time for yourself as well.