Julia studied a Bachelor of Science & Bachelor of Laws at Monash University graduating in 2019. She is now a Graduate in MinterEllison's Melbourne offices.
I am one of those people who likes to get up early. There is something about the calm of an early morning that I have always loved. Also, given the COVID-19 lockdown conditions, I like to get out for a run around the Tan or Albert Park before the rest of Melbourne wakes up!
One of the major perks of working from home is the more relaxed approach to workwear. As much as I love dressing up for my workday, I've grown accustomed to the casual look in the home office - safe to say my ugg boots will be missing me when we head back to the office!
By now, I am craving my morning coffee. Fortunately, there are a lot of great cafes in my area, so I usually meander down to the local for a caffeine hit! Hopefully, my housemates are up and keen to join me. If not, I have a few friends who live close by so I might meet them for a walk, catch-up and grab a coffee along the way!
I am in General Insurance, which sits within Insurance and Corporate Risk (ICR). Insurance covers a range of streams of work, but as a Grad in General I am lucky enough to sit across these streams and experience work in each area.
Everyone in the team has their own approach to the WFH workday. While most are generally logged in by 9.00AM, I like to start at around 8.00AM to give myself some time to review the tasks that are due that morning, respond to emails, and set out my day. My first port of call is the list that I've prepared the day before. With so many matters on the go in Insurance, it's easy for things to slip through the cracks. I find it useful to prepare a list at the end of each day detailing the key things that I have to do the following day. It's also useful to look back over to find what tasks might need following up on. I send off a few things due that morning and follow up on a few tasks that I completed earlier in the week.
Next, I check my calendar to see if I have any meetings or training today. I see that there is a mediation this morning and, even though I haven't worked on the matter, my Supervising Partner always invites me to attend so that I can observe the ins and outs of mediations and see firsthand the different mediation styles and tactics.
I take the time to check in with a lawyer in my team. I get most of my work through this lawyer, so I find it really valuable to catch up with her as much as possible to make sure I am helping out where I can. We discuss a matter that I've been given some responsibility managing. We are acting for the insured in proceedings recently issued in the Supreme Court relating to an injury that was sustained on property owned by the insured. She gives me feedback on a letter of advice that I've drafted that provides updates to the client on how the matter is progressing and any new evidence we have obtained. Together we work through outstanding tasks, impending court deadlines and strategize next steps. Out of this quick chat, I add a few more things to my to-do list.
Time for our team meeting! In ICR we have a Webex meeting once a week. It provides a great opportunity to check-in as a group, share any important updates and, most importantly, catch-up with some friendly faces! For the benefit of the juniors, a couple of the more senior members take the time to share the matters they are working on, how they are progressing and any issues they are facing.
I quickly make sure I am wearing an appropriate outfit before logging into the mediation. Because of COVID-19, we can't attend these in person. Instead, they are facilitated via Zoom. Normally, there are around 6 people on the call, but otherwise the process is much the same as it is in person. After introducing myself, I make sure I am set up to take a file note and settle in.
After the mediation, my Supervisor calls to touch base. He takes the time to answer any questions I have about the process or the matter specifically, and explains any nuanced arguments that were raised in the mediation. Unfortunately, the matter didn't resolve, but we are still involved in discussions with the other parties. Hopefully we can reach an amicable solution today!
With no meetings until after lunch, I take a break and then have some time to bunker down and tick a few items off my to do list. I need to draft answers to interrogatories on a matter that I haven't worked on before. I need to familiarise myself with the file so that the answers accurately reflect the insured's knowledge of the matter.
It has been a long morning and I am hungry! I usually try to coordinate lunch with my housemates to make sure I take a proper break. Another one of the major perks of working from home is that I don't have to meal prep! I generally have plenty of time to muster up a delicious lunch, enjoy some laughs and hopefully get out for a quick walk before getting back to work.
I get back to my desk and see that I've missed a few emails. An email I have drafted to solicitors for the plaintiff has been approved, so I send that off. In another email a Senior Associate has asked if I have capacity to assist with an urgent task – final submissions are due today and she needs a fresh pair of eyes to check for any mistakes. I know I have plenty on my to do list, but I can spare some time to assist. I also find proofreading a really valuable way of learning. When I started in the team, I didn't know very much about Insurance Law, but proofreading advices, submissions, and other documents has allowed me to help my team members out, while also learning about the nuances of our practice.
I've finished the first draft of the answers to interrogatories and send them off to be reviewed. Next on my to do list is a letter of advice.
Because I have been proofreading advices, I know the general structure and premise that is to be expected. However, each matter is different so I familiarise myself with the file and read through the reports prepared by our experts, and the experts for the plaintiff. It is important to make sure the client is updated with the most determinative evidence and is across how that evidence might impact their case. This process takes some time, but synthesizing this information and formulating our strategy for contesting the matter is one of the more challenging and rewarding elements of my work!
An email comes through from my Supervising Partner regarding the mediation we attended today. He informs me that the matter has now settled. I call him to follow up and we spend some time chatting about how he resolved an argument raised by other defendant in the matter. These discussions are invaluable to my learning. They allow me to see how the elements of the matter, and contentions at mediation, interact to eventually produce an outcome acceptable to all parties. They also help me to identify the most important factual elements of a case, which ultimately benefits my ability to prepare advices that direct the client's attention to the important issues in their case, and forecast how they might play out.
I receive a phone call from a lawyer in my team requesting my urgent assistance on an inquest. She spends some time explaining the process of a coronial inquest to me before giving me more specific instructions. These matters often deal with very sensitive issues, and We've just received a large bundle of documents from the client, and she needs me to prepare a chronology of events. She asks for the chronology to be ready in a few days, but flags that it might take some time so recommends I get onto it sooner rather than later.
Generally, my work day ends sometime between 5.30 and 6.30. To make sure I can hit the ground running tomorrow, I prepare my to do list and flag all emails that need actioning. I also add to the list any tasks that I have completed recently that may need following up. I finalise all my time-recording for the day, file emails to their respective matters and check my calendar for tomorrow to get an idea how busy I will be. I log off and luckily, my 'commute' downstairs to the kitchen only takes a minute (another major perk of WFH).
By now, I am grateful that I made myself go for a run in the morning because it means I can spend the evening enjoying dinner with my housemates (it's my turn to cook) and watching MasterChef!