Now in her sixth month of the Graduate Program, Lucy shares her experience of a typical day in the Firm's Statutory Compensation Management ('SCM') team.
I have always been a relatively early riser and today was no exception.
One of the Partners in my team had asked me to attend an 8am meeting with a barrister we had previously briefed. My task was to take notes whilst the barrister proofed a witness. Due to the current COVID-19 climate the proofing of the witness was by telephone. This was the first day in almost 10 weeks that I left my home office to go to the barrister's chambers.
I had rushed around a little, wanting to make sure that I left home with plenty of time to get to the meeting. It was raining heavily so I spent a bit of time locating an umbrella and reminding myself about where would be the best spot to try secure a car park in the city.
The meeting began smoothly. The barrister rang the witness, who answered on the first call. The meeting went quickly and for just under an hour. I had not observed a witness proofing session before and I was particularly interested in the way that the barrister framed his questions to the witness. By the end of the meeting I had a new appreciation for court reporters' ability to type at the speed of light and to capture every single tiny word that is said.
Back in my home office I perused a few emails. I then settled the notes from the morning meeting before I started on any further tasks. I am in the first six months of my Graduate Program and have been working in the firm's Statutory Compensation Management ('SCM') team which is also the team I clerked with over the summer. My team's working from home setup is perhaps slightly different to many other team set ups in that some of my team are still required to head into the city in order to attend trials in the Tribunal or Full Supreme Court.
In my inbox I had received a new task, asking me to draft an initial advice to our client. It was a matter I had not previously dealt with so I went straight to reading the book of documents cover to cover, as this generally gives me a much better understanding of a matter. The book of documents will generally contain numerous specialist medical reports and a close attention to detail in these reports is often crucial for the advice.
By this point I had identified that the advice would be centred on statutory interpretation and so I located a copy of Pearce and Geddes (the go-to book on Statutory Interpretation) and got started on the advice.
SCM had a scheduled team meeting at 12 midday and so it was time to join the WebEx meeting.
The SCM team meeting normally runs through an update of some of our bigger matters, such as those that have been appealed to the Full Supreme Court. During this working from home period there have been a number of changes to court and tribunal procedures, so we are often also updated on these changes. For example, as a result of COVID-19 almost all initial directions hearings are now by telephone.
The rest of the meeting is mostly general admin and checking in to see how everyone is going at home. I enjoy these meetings as they provide a great opportunity to catch-up with my team.
My daily lunch routine during this working from home period has been a quick toasted sandwich and then off for a bit of fresh air by walking down to the local coffee shop.
Back in the home office I spent the next two hours making progress on my advice which ideally needs to be sent off in the next day or so.
I received a call from the Special Counsel in my team, who is also my supervisor. The Special Counsel rings me every day to discuss my work and to delegate further tasks. I find these chats very helpful as it enables me to constantly stay busy and become involved in a range of interesting matters.
In this instance the Special Counsel provided me with feedback on an advice that I had drafted for him the previous week. The worker's compensation scheme in South Australia is primarily governed by the Return to Work Act 2014 ('RTW Act') and these larger advices are normally prepared for the client once an Application for Review has been filed in the South Australian Employment Tribunal. This particular advice was my first draft advice on the operation of section 48 of the RTW Act. Thankfully the Special Counsel agreed with the advice and it was sent off to the client without too many changes.
I used the end of the day to finish working on a research memo for a matter that is proceeding to trial. In this particular memo I was considering the medical evidence that had been provided by various medical specialists in light of the relevant section in the RTW Act and any applicable case law.
I ended my day by submitting my time entries and ensuring that I'd responded to all my emails. I then managed to go for a quick run before it got dark. During this working from home period my family has gotten into watching 'the West Wing' on Stan, and so watching a further episode after dinner is likely to be on the cards.