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Legal practice stream - Nicola

A day in the life of a grad

Profile image of Nicola Alroe
Nicola - Legal practice stream

Legal practice stream

AGS Commercial rotation


I try to start each day with a walk or a run (read: almost always a walk). Without exercise I turn into a cranky sloth, so it’s a necessity for my sake, as well everyone else’s. In Canberra, morning exercise comes with the added bonus of seeing politicians in active wear. Last week I saw a High Court judge walking to work – no small feat given the amount of paperwork he was carrying – but I am yet to see either Shorten or Turnbull, who I am told frequent the lake circuit with their respective entourages in tow.  


I leave for work. It’s a 15 minute walk to the office, and I try to walk both ways. Sometimes if I’m feeling lazy I’ll guilt Tash – one of the other grads – into driving me.


I arrive at the office, and the grads go up to level five to get coffee. I’m not sure whether it was friengineering or fate, but everyone in our cohort gets on incredibly well. I keep muesli and yogurt at work, and start the work day by eating breakfast at my desk while catching up on my emails and setting out a to-do list for the day.


A senior lawyer needs me to update one of her model contract clauses. I try to quickly get across the legislation and recent amendments. I realise we are going to need to draft two new model clauses – one standard clause, and one to reflect a new exception.


My supervisor, who is offsite at a client office, gives me an urgent research task on a niche issue of tort law. I crack open Fleming, who happily answers the question in our client’s favour. I do some further research online to make sure my answer is up to date, and to understand how the common law position interacts with the ACT’s Civil Law (Wrongs) Act. I draft a short research note and send it off.


Every fortnight my buddy and I catch up for coffee. I see her every day, but it’s nice to chat outside the office. We sit in the sun and talk about how I am settling into the team, as well our weekend plans.


I’ve just gotten back from coffee when another lawyer asks me if I have capacity to assist with a task next week. I do have capacity, so I meet with him to get a briefing. I need to research the interface between Commonwealth funding, donations, contract law and commercial research. It’s a fascinating issue of property and contract law. As a starting point, the lawyer would like me to review a number of donation consent forms. He gives me the materials and I pencil it into my diary for attention the following Monday.

When I get back to my desk, I finish drafting the model contract clauses, which takes me through to lunchtime. The lawyer will review my draft and get back to me with any suggestions next week.


All of the grads try to take their lunch at the same time so we can chat. Five of us start GDLP next week so this dominates conversation. To get some air, we go for a stroll down leafy Kings Avenue.


Another lawyer in the commercial team asks me to draft a deed of variation for a lease, as well as a corresponding Torrens title lease variation form. I’ve never done these things before but she takes her time to explain the task and gives me an example of a previous document. I draft the documents then send them through to her for review.


I get a call from an interstate commercial team national manager with another urgent research task. This one relates to report recommendations made by a departmental taskforce. I can only find an interim report, but we need the final one, so I ask the library staff to help find it. We discover that the final report has been delayed, but that interim report recommendations were the subject of a Bill presented to the House of Representatives only two days ago. I write my second research note of the day, and as I hit send, it’s nice think of my work whizzing down to the Melbourne office.


I finalise my time entries for the day before heading off to Old Parliament House drinks with the other grads (a Canberra Friday institution).


I am really enjoying the variety and the fundamental nature of the tort, contract and property work that I am doing in my AGS Commercial rotation on a day-to-day basis. There is so much to learn, and so many people willing to help you during that process.