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Sunday, 1 September 2019

Obiter Dictum, Spring 2019

The Young Lawyers Committee presented our Young Lawyers Advocacy Afternoon on 4 September. Three Canberra advocates — Debra Parker, the Hon John Faulks, and Seyi Onitiri — joined us for the event and covered what to do before, during, and after mediation, how to reduce the stress of court proceedings, and effective drafting and use of affidavit evidence. A big thank you to our wonderful presenters! 

Our Speed Networking event at Highball on 8 August 2019 was also a great success. Thank you to Hays for sponsoring. 

Members of the committee were lucky enough to attend the ACT Bar Association President’s Lunch on 7 August 2019 with guest speaker Kim Brennan AM. Kim is a lawyer and management consultant with Ernst & Young who balances the demands of being a mum with a busy professional career. 

She is a sixteen-time National Champion, two-time World Champion, three-time Olympian and Olympic gold medallist who retired from rowing in late 2018. She will be Australia’s Deputy Chef-de Mission at the Tokyo Olympics. 

She spoke candidly about managing work, rowing and her family and how it wasn’t always ‘smooth sailing’. What resonated with me was her view that, to be a leader or a coach, you do not have to be aggressive or intimidating and how important it is to have leaders that are empathetic and supportive of their staff. This is the way she now coaches and mentors the younger athletes. 

Kim talked about being lucky to work in environments that were accommodating in relation to her sporting commitments and her studies, demonstrating the benefits of flexible work arrangements for accessing energetic and passionate young lawyers. Whilst an inspiring discussion, I do look forward to the day when female young lawyers do not feel the need to associate flexible working arrangements and a lack of workplace discrimination with ‘luck’. 

The first round of our Mentor Program for 2019 went very well and we had a great turnout for our End of Mentor Program Event. The ACT Solicitor-General Peter Garrisson AM SC was our guest speaker. He was fantastic — very engaging and personable. He spoke about how mentoring can take many different forms, from the traditional mentor/mentee, to peer mentoring and now ‘reverse mentoring’ — a scheme being trialled by top-tier firms in Sydney where the graduates ‘mentor’ the partners. I wonder how candid the graduates really are with their ‘mentee’ partners! 

Mr Garrison encouraged everyone to get involved in the mentor program. He promoted the need to give back and he put the onus on senior practitioners in the profession to become mentors — even if it is just meeting with a young lawyer for coffee. He also emphasised the importance of having someone objective (i.e. outside of your organisation) to ask questions of. 

The two annual intakes for the mentor program are February and August. If you’d like to get involved, keep an eye on our email updates and our Facebook page for further information. 

In terms of our remaining events for the year, these include Touch Football and Yoga by the High Court on 11 and 15 October respectively; our Spring Wine Tasting event on 12 October 2019 (sponsored by TIMG); our Christmas function on 22 November 2019 (sponsored by Hays). 

We are continuing to raise funds for our 2019 charity, Hands Across Canberra.  

Rebecca Wheeler
Chair, Young Lawyers Committee