As the last six months of my law degree fast approaches, I am beginning to reflect on what I will be taking away from my degree apart from an oversized piece of paper and a large HECS debt. When I finished my music degree last year I was quite content with the fact that I now had enough nerdy musical trivia to last me a life time, but I honestly hope that my law degree will stretch a little further than Friday night trivia at the local pub.
When I began working at Farrar Gesini Dunn last year I quickly stepped out of my law school bubble and entered the real world. No longer is Mrs Donoghue¹ a fictional character who unfortunately found a snail in her bottle of ginger beer; now she’s a real woman with three kids in the midst of complicated property settlement, struggling to pay the grocery bills.
Whilst caught up in the never ending slog of lectures, tutorials, assessments and exams what law school fails to emphasise is that every case you study and every tutorial problem you solve is in fact a reality for someone else. I have spent 4 years at university learning how to advise clients without actually meeting a single one. And whilst my peers are great at helping me commiserate over that impossible exam question, we rarely turn our mind to the idea that that seemingly impossible property case might actually be someone else’s life. In the blunt mind of any law student, it’s simply an exam problem which, fail or pass, will be over in three hours’ time.
That’s where FGD has disclosed to me (pun intended) the real world. A post university reality which comes with its own living, breathing clients. FGD’s tag line is ‘Modern Lawyers, Real People’ and it’s far from a cop out. To us you are not just a matter number, an electronic file or another phone call to make. You are a person, who just like us, have a life outside of our offices. You have a family, friends, a job, hobbies and all the other cares and worries that come your way.
There’s a reason we offer you a cup of tea and a biscuit on your way in, it’s not to sweeten the deal, it’s literally just because we really like tea and biscuits and we want you to feel as close to at home as possible. We don’t want your family law matter to be the most overwhelming and all-encompassing experience of your life. Instead we are here to help you past this bump in the road and on to more exciting things than an email from us.
And whilst this soon to be law grad is already turning into sentimental mush before she even reaches the bar, I can safely say that it’s a place I am happy to be. I am genuinely excited at the arrival of your new baby, your child’s award at school, your new job, the settlement of your matter or the simple fact that you had a nice weekend.
Mrs Donoghue now has a face and a story and I’m no longer chuckling at her misfortune, in fact on reflection, drinking a fermented snail is pretty gross.
By: Molly Campbell
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¹FYI – Donoghue v Stevenson  UKHL 100 (also known as the snail in the bottle case) is one of the first cases you ever learn at law school. It’s a benchmark case which sets out the basic principles of negligence in Tort law. Mrs Donoghue fell ill after finding a snail in her ginger beer and then sued the manufacturer. If you are keen to nerd out on your legal trivia click here.
PS. I don’t recommend Wiki for exam prep.