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A day in the life of…
Melbourne associate, Nicolette Tan

What do our associates actually do every day? Meet Nicolette Tan, an associate based in our Melbourne office working in our Asia EIPAF and Disputes Team. Read on to discover what a typical day for Nicolette involves. 

6:30 a.m.

I wake up, get ready for work and have breakfast while watching the news.

I have a relatively long commute in to work and spend the train ride listening to music or podcasts. On the plus side, living towards the end of the train line means I can usually get a seat! 

8:45 a.m.

I generally get to the office around this time, unless I catch up with a friend over a hot chocolate or cup of tea beforehand. Most people filter in a bit later, but I like getting started earlier so that I can check my emails, get organised and figure out my rough "to-do list" for the day (which is always subject to change!).

9:15 a.m.

Time to get started on work! I'm currently completing my final rotation in the Project Delivery team, which focuses on construction law and the delivery of a range of projects, from infrastructure (including major roads and tunnels) to renewable energy projects (such as solar farms and wind farms). 

In my previous rotations in the Project Finance team in Sydney, and the Property, Environment and Planning team in Melbourne, I also worked on similar projects but from a different legal perspective. All of our teams work closely together, and it's great to feel like I'm continually building on my knowledge of the "projects" practice area.

Today, I'm working on a due diligence report in relation to a large infrastructure project. The report will be given to potential financiers to help them decide whether they want to lend money to build the project, and whether they will need to seek additional protections in the contract documentation to compensate for any risks associated with the project. 

Our role is to review the proposal for the project, contracts to be entered into and any relevant legislative regimes, and report on anything that might affect the financiers' investment decisions. As part of this, I'm summarising a new bill introduced to Parliament which will affect the project, and researching Australia's "ipso facto" regime. 

11:00 a.m.

Mid-morning is generally when committee meetings are held, which all staff can get involved in and contribute ideas to. Today, I'm attending the gender-balance committee meeting where we will discuss the status of our various mentoring programs and debrief on the International Women's Day events which were recently held at our offices.

After that, it's back to my research. I consult legal commentaries, and ask around to see if anyone has done some previous work on the topic so that I can build on their knowledge. I also check in with the partner who gave me the task to make sure I'm on the right track.

12:30 p.m.

At lunchtime, I often try to get out of the office for a bit of fresh air and to catch up with friends working around the city. We also regularly have training sessions run over lunchtime, which are broadcast live to all of our offices around Asia. 

Today, I'm eating lunch in our kitchen area with a group of other associates and graduates. We often do the daily quiz in The Age and/or the Herald Sun, which adds a bit of fun to the work day.

1:30 p.m.

When I get back to my desk, I notice an email has come in relating to an ongoing matter from my Project Finance rotation—a finance document that we've been negotiating needs some minor amendments made to it. 

I proofread and send off my section of the due diligence report for review, before turning to the finance document. I prepare a draft of the required changes and, after discussing it and getting sign-off from the partner I'm working with, send it out to our clients for them to provide comments.

3:00 p.m.

After that, I continue with some pro bono work (i.e. work done for free for those in need). Today, I'm doing some research to help a Victorian homeowner with a building dispute as part of our partnership with Justice Connect's Domestic Building Legal Service. 

All of our desks in the office are motorised, height-adjustable "standing desks". This time of day is perfect to make a cup of tea and stand up to work while stretching my legs a little.

I also discuss a new task with a senior associate—I need to review a handful of agreements entered into between utility service providers (e.g., gas and water services) and the State in connection with an infrastructure project, and summarise certain similarities and differences between them. I have a few days to work on this, so I focus on the pro bono work for this afternoon as I will be attending an in-person meeting with the client tomorrow (with a more senior lawyer) to give them advice.

6:30 p.m.

After finishing my work for the day, I sort my emails into folders and work on finalising my time entries (describing what tasks I completed during that day and how long I spent on each, so that clients can be billed accordingly). I usually aim to leave the office around this time to go home and eat dinner, after checking in to see if anyone needs my help with anything else for the day. 

Our "finish time" is quite varied and depends on how much work you have to do—no one is expected to hang around if there is no work to complete, but we're also well taken care of if there is a reason to stay later: We can order dinner to be delivered to the office and catch a taxi home. We are also set up to work remotely and can log back on from home to finish our work after taking some time out to have a break and eat. 

Before heading to bed, I like to unwind by messaging friends, watching some TV or playing video games.

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