February 2023: Senior associates, Andrew Mason, Allison van Beers and Ashleigh Cole share their thoughts on a career in Litigation and what White & Case's Disputes practice can offer graduates.
Andrew Mason says that it's the nature of the work that makes his role so fulfilling:
"One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is working with clients whose businesses are exceptionally interesting—often at the forefront of the industry they work in. Through the work we do in disputes, we gain a unique and in-depth understanding of our client's businesses and the industries they operate in. As a result, this often also means that we face complex legal issues which are novel and at the forefront of the applicable area of law."
Allison van Beers agrees: "I love working in disputes and international arbitration. No day is the same—even if the type of work I am doing is similar, the content is always different. We work on large, complex matters—often disputes concerning infrastructure or energy projects (including renewables). That means I can (and must) work on a variety of tasks and issues all for the same matter / client. In one day I might meet with the White & Case team and counsel to discuss strategy concerning a section of the case, email with the other party's solicitors in relation to procedural matters, review relevant case law and meet with an expert witness."
A stimulating mix of strategic thinking and detail-focused work
So what does a disputes resolution lawyer do on a daily basis? Ashleigh Cole, says that it's a stimulating mix: "I enjoy the variety of work, especially the degree to which we need to think ahead strategically. Like a game of chess, you need to think ahead—anticipating the other side's next move and advising our client on the path forward. But we also need to get involved in the detail—which might be detailed research on an aspect of law."
How to succeed on this dynamic team
Andrew explains the key skill that Disputes lawyers need: "I think there are two key competences required to succeed in the long term. First, is a continued willingness to learn. Our clients' work in fast paced industries that are continually changing, and it's incumbent on us to keep up. Second, is taking ownership and being proactive. By this I mean not just doing a great job on a task you're being given, but trying to understand where that task fits within the overall picture of the matter and how you are contributing to the objective the team is trying to achieve."
Ashleigh says that White & Case lawyers are in the driving seat of their careers: "If you prove yourself, there's no limit to where you can go."
Varied work for graduates
Allison says that the rigor of the work appeals to her: "I like an intellectual challenge. In the matters we work on, we have the luxury of being able to get to the bottom of otherwise "grey" areas of law."
Andrew adds, "Due the nature of our clients' businesses, disputes often have a transboundary element to them—given the Firm's global breadth of expertise, our Australian practice is uniquely positioned to assist with solving the complex, often by leveraging the professional relationships you build across our network to do so."
For Ashleigh, the variety of work and constant support of colleagues is especially welcome. "There's always a new challenge. We work closely in teams, which means that you have visibility on where your work contributes to the overall team effort."
Work satisfaction: Creativity and a supportive workplace
She adds that the supportive culture within the Australian offices makes for a great working environment. "From partners to paralegals, everyone gets involved in the work and pulls together. Combined with a really friendly office culture, it's just a really enjoyable place to work."
Finally, Andrew says that grads can expect to make a contribution from Day One: "Never under-estimate the value you can bring to a matter, even as a grad. Your perspective is always helpful and sometimes a fresh pair of eyes to a matter sees something that no one else does. I find that teams work best where everyone has an equal voice to contribute."