Lauren is passionate about helping shape the future of young and aspiring law students. Her passion has not only seen her achieve great success in her legal career, but also foster a supportive network of legal professionals in her involvement with the Deakin Law School Alumni Chapter.
Lauren has been awarded the Geelong Youth Awards 2019 in the category of Leadership, and was also the 2018 recipient of the Deakin University Vice-Chancellor’s Medal for Outstanding Contribution to University Life.
Can you tell us about your time at Deakin?
My time at Deakin is largely defined by my work with the Deakin Law Students’ Society Geelong (DLSS Geelong). In 2017 I joined the committee as a Marketing Officer, and in 2018 I was elected President. Whilst the role of Marketing Officer let me indulge in my love of marketing and graphic design, it was the role of President that really opened my eyes to the opportunities that Deakin has for students, and the vital importance of representing student interests at larger forums. For example, as President I was lucky enough to represent Deakin and DLSS Geelong at Australian Law Student Association conferences and I sat on the Deakin Law School Advisory Board.
If there is anything that I hope I achieved whilst at Deakin, it would be fostering meaningful connections for students with local firms. In 2017 and 2018 I facilitated the DLSS Geelong’s first Hackathon event in partnership with Harwood Andrews. The focus of the event was to discuss issues troubling the legal profession that could be overcome with innovative legal design. I can’t think of any comparable platform for students that sees them spending a day working side-by-side with lawyers, as equals, with the aim of advancing legal practice.
What has been your journey since finishing your course?
I am incredibly grateful that my current firm, Coulter Roache, advertised for part-time Paralegals whilst I was in my final year as I took on a role 3 days a week in the Wills & Estates department. Since finishing my degree, I started working full-time at the firm, taking on two days a week in Litigation to compliment my days in Wills & Estates, and since graduating I have commenced a 12-month program rotating through each of the major departments.
However, throughout the course of my degree I held a lot of different positions both in and out of the legal profession. I was a food blogger with The Geelong Manual, Sales Associate for a teeth-whitening brand, Project Officer at the Asia Education Foundation and also coached softball at my old High School. In my third year I was a successful applicant for Deakin’s Legal Internship unit where I was placed at Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service for four months, and later volunteered at Barwon Community Legal Centre. Whilst legal experience is vital to jumpstarting a law student’s career, I think having a versatile resume that showcases your passions and interests is just as important and helps you stand out to potential employers.
Since graduating in 2018 I was offered the opportunity of joining the Deakin Law School Alumni Chapter Executive Committee as Marketing Director. Whilst I jumped at the chance to have a new outlet for discussing and implementing social media strategies, I'm most excited about the fact that the position lets me facilitate connections between alumni, celebrate DLS graduates’ successes, and build a network of passionate legal professionals via our LinkedIn group.
I started my Practical Legal Training at the College of Law in February, and will hopefully be Admitted to Practice in October or November this year.
What has been the biggest influence on your career?
What has been the biggest influence on your career?
One of the major influences in my life to date has been my father, who moved to Australia in the 1970s from the USA to be an English teacher. He met my mum, they married, and he never moved back to the USA. His passion for teaching young people and wanting to prepare them for their futures always inspired me. I always enjoyed his anecdotes of being a career guidance counsellor during his time teaching in Kyabram and subconsciously this must have impacted on me. My favourite part of working with both DLSS Geelong and the DLS Alumni Chapter is that I get to assist students and alumni in making connections with others in the legal profession, in the hope that it will help them advance their careers.
Have you always wanted to pursue the kind of career you have embarked on?
I think I was in year 7 or 8 and just settling into High School when I knew I wanted to study law. I don’t think I knew what my ‘end game’ would be, but I was really interested in politics at the time and I had a passion for public speaking. I was fortunate that my High School had some fantastic career guidance counsellors who I could meet with to discuss my passions and interests, and they pointed me in the direction of a Law degree. My interest in the Media Communications side of things developed later, as I was probably in year 10 or 11 and was considering becoming a journalist because I got good grades in English. I was also lucky that when I finished year 12 I started working right away at the Asia Education Foundation, where I assisted with drafting copy and graphics for their social media accounts. The world of social media, marketing strategies and graphic design just enthralled me from the get-go.
What advice would you give graduates wanting to pursue a similar profession?
It is crucial that Law students take advantage of all the internship and volunteering opportunities that present themselves, either through Deakin or externally, as it is near-impossible to land a paid role in the legal profession without having some hands-on experience. I think a lot of students don’t consider getting volunteer experience until right before clerkship application time, by which point it’s expected by firms that applicants have already worked at a handful of different Community Legal Centres, firms, or similar organisations. I was definitely late to the game, and had made the mistake of prioritising non-law related work experience up until my 4th year (which is when it was time for clerkship applications). From that point on, I made a real effort to engage with my local community, find CLCs that represented my interests, and did a lot of cold-calling to enquire about vacant positions.
What do you believe Deakin University has shown you/given you as a person?
The opportunities that Deakin Law School provides enabled me to get work experience whilst studying, and were vital in putting me on the career trajectory that I am now on. The flexibility of studying online also meant that I didn’t have to fall behind in classes just because I was working more, or wanted to travel, or just needed to take things at my own pace for a while. I am a strong believer in you get what you give – I worked tirelessly for two years with DLSS Geelong and strived to provide the best Law School experience I could for Deakin Geelong students, and in turn I found a supportive and inspiring network of like-minded young law students (now young professionals) who have continued to challenge me and encourage me in my own endeavours.
What are your passions outside your work?
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a massive cat-lover, and one-eyed Hawthorn Hawks supporter. They are my two biggest passions. My first cat, Mufasa, now lives with my Dad, but my boyfriend and I recently adopted two cats of our own, Han and Leia. Coulter Roache have indulged my inner ‘crazy cat lady’ and let me run a morning tea fundraiser for the RSPCA’s Cupcake Day as well as a donation drive for the Geelong Animal Welfare Society. I have been a member of the Hawthorn Football Club since 2007 and recently joined Law Hawks, the club’s official In-House Lawyers’ Supporter Group.
How would someone describe you?
Loud – haha! I’m a naturally loud talker and love to have a laugh.
Is there any advice you would give to a person who is starting out in your career?
Take every opportunity you can – you never know what you’ll learn along the way, and you’ll meet some amazing people who will mentor you, support you, and become your friend. There’s nothing more meaningful in such a competitive profession than having someone who genuinely wants to help you succeed.
What is something that amazes you?This probably isn’t the positive uplifting statement you were hoping for with this question, but I cringe every time I receive a letter addressed to myself or a female colleague as ‘Dear Sirs’, like it is somehow unimaginable that a female may be the lawyer on the other side. Alternatively, with such a breadth of incredible legal technology available on the market, I am shocked that lots of firms are very slow to adopt digital tools which would ultimately make legal work more efficient and less costly for clients. The emergence of legal tech is something I have been following closely throughout my time studying, and now as a professional, and I am excited to see how the professional landscape continues to evolve in the coming decade.
Is there anything else you’d like to add we haven’t covered?
The great work of DLSS Geelong cannot be undermined – other meaningful opportunities I helped facilitate during my presidency were: the Careers Dinner, where I secured Federal MP for Corangamite Sarah Henderson as a guest speaker; our inaugural Business and Law Faculty First Year Welcome Event which saw over 60 first year students attend to hear about the Society, how we can support them, and how they can engage with us throughout the year; and lastly (but probably closest to my heart), the Social Justice Luncheon where I arranged for the Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG to come down from Sydney to Geelong to deliver a lecture to students on social justice issues. It is rare for a notable figure such as Justice Kirby to come to Geelong, particularly for a student-run event, and the feedback on the day was that everyone was elated they were able to hear such a well-renowned legal mind speak in Geelong. Whilst Geelong is by no means a small regional town, there is certainly a stigma around students who come from rural areas that they innately find it harder to break into the legal profession. As such, being able to attract esteemed guests to our events helps bridge the gap between Geelong students and the career pathways they aspire to.