June 2022: Former Melbourne clerk and current graduate Lucas Chen recalls how his first experience of White & Case made him feel like this was a welcoming and inclusive firm—and a great place to start his career.
Now a member of the busy Project Finance team, Lucas recalls his first impression of White & Case: "I saw and worked alongside so many impressive people from a background of color, as well as queer-identifying lawyers and extremely strong women leaders with genuine lived experience that many other clerks and I could totally relate to," he remembers.
Finding a firm where he saw his own identity and values reflected in the people around him was important to Lucas, but at the time, he wasn't optimistic that it would be easy to find. "When I applied for clerkships, this was probably the most important thing I was looking for in a firm to start my career, which is ironically also one of the hardest things to find in the legal industry."
“I wanted to be a part of a firm that embraced international work at such a big scale”
Beyond the immediate team and the Firm's values, White & Case's extensive international network and growing presence in the Australian market also set it apart. According to Lucas: "As far as Australian law firms go, White & Case had the most globally integrated network and I wanted to be a part of a firm that did international work at such a big scale in a really collaborative way."
Now that he's joined the Firm, playing a key part in its growth is one of his ambitions: "Something I'm really looking forward to achieving at White & Case is helping shape a law firm's culture from the ground up. I think the really unique opportunity about such a global law firm with strategic footing in Australia is that it doesn't carry the weight of a traditional law firm, and you, as a junior, play an important role in influencing the changes you want to see and re-imagining what you think a law firm should look like."
Understanding the big picture and bringing a fresh perspective
When putting together his application, he leveraged his background in professional services to understand the part that a law firm plays: "My curiosity in trying to understand how White & Case operates as a business helped me conceptualize the bigger picture in what our work was contributing to, and how we actually went about solving our clients' problems strategically."
Having experience beyond clerking in a law firm also helped Lucas approach typical clerking tasks from an original perspective: "I structured tasks the way I thought they should be presented rather than regurgitating a template or precedent, which I think was appreciated by my colleagues as I was able to bring fresh eyes and solutions to the table."
He adds that getting involved in pro bono work brings both personal and professional benefits to aspiring lawyers: "There were so many tasks where I was able to take initiative and drive the approach myself—the most important part was being able to apply innovative solutions to super meaningful work that had an impact for those in need."
Diversity: "The backbone of White & Case"
For Lucas, succeeding at a firm ultimately comes down to the people that you work with: "Getting to know your colleagues, how they work and why they are passionate about the work they do are key things. For me, it was immediately apparent how lovely and caring everybody was here—it makes such a huge difference when you know the people you are working with are invested in supporting you to achieve your goals."
Diversity was an important consideration too: "The type of work we do requires different types of people, and what I saw as a clerk was that such diversity was not only tangibly visible but you could tell it really formed the backbone of White & Case."
Since joining the Firm in March, Lucas has already started to make his mark by contributing to the Australian Spectrum LGBTQIA+ Committee. With Pride month just around the corner, we asked Lucas how he is planning to celebrate this year. "I will definitely be attending some art exhibitions around Victoria. I love the way art can reflect different kinds of stories at various pockets of time, and I am a huge believer in supporting the power of those stories as well as the artists behind them and how they contribute to the broader movement. Lucas notes that between his commitments with the Spectrum Committee and personal interests, June is shaping up to be a busy (but extremely fun) month!"
"Ask questions that help you choose an environment where you feel supported"
What advice does Lucas have for anyone applying for a clerkship with White & Case? "Be yourself and ask questions that matter to you. When I applied for clerkships, I had to genuinely evaluate what was important to me and what I was looking for. Since it's such a people-facing profession, ask questions that help you choose an environment where you feel supported and heard—as a student looking to start a career in law, this is one of the best times to do exactly that!"