Grad­u­ates Pro­gram 2021 — An inter­view with James Skelton

At Swaab we are a young part­ner­ship, proud of our entre­pre­neur­ial his­to­ry, our inno­v­a­tive edge, the diver­si­ty that makes us who we are, and the gen­eros­i­ty of spir­it that we radiate. 

A key fac­tor in main­tain­ing our dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion is embrac­ing inno­va­tion, diver­si­ty and the fresh per­spec­tives that come to our firm from employ­ing graduates.

In the lead up to the Grad­u­ates Pro­gram for 2021 we will be inter­view­ing our past grad­u­ates and ask them to reflect on what their most inter­est­ing and chal­leng­ing moments have been, what advice they would give and how the pro­gram has helped them shape their careers.

James Skel­ton — Senior Associate

What was it like being a part of the pro­gram, how did it affect your career?

The Swaab grad­u­ate pro­gram gave me respon­si­bil­i­ty for mat­ters and con­tact with clients from my first day at the firm. The broad expo­sure to dif­fer­ent areas of law across my rota­tions in the com­mer­cial, intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty and lit­i­ga­tion teams helped to refine my legal knowl­edge – whether that was by draft­ing agree­ments, appear­ing in court or con­duct­ing due dili­gence for acqui­si­tions. I quick­ly found an area that I was inter­est­ed in and Swaab has sup­port­ed me to devel­op as a lawyer in that prac­tice ever since. 

What did you enjoy most about the program? 

A key part about the pro­gram is the time spent with oth­er grad­u­ates, lawyers and part­ners in the firm. Swaab’s gen­eros­i­ty of spir­it is more than a val­ue list­ed on a page. As a grad­u­ate, my super­vis­ing part­ner’s door was always open and I could ask my bud­dy those sil­ly’ ques­tions at any time. Swaab’s small team sizes also meant that I was con­tin­u­ous­ly involved on inter­est­ing mat­ters with a part­ner and their broad­er team. 

What was the most inter­est­ing part of the program? 

The var­ied nature of the work done by lawyers at Swaab means there are always inter­est­ing mat­ters to work on. One day you might be help­ing with a mat­ter for a large ASX list­ed com­pa­ny, anoth­er day you might be work­ing for a pri­vate client or fam­i­ly busi­ness, then the fol­low­ing week you might be work­ing with anoth­er Mer­i­tas firm to pro­vide advice to inter­na­tion­al clients. 

What were some of the more chal­leng­ing moments? 

Learn­ing to give suc­cinct and com­mer­cial legal advice is a skill you’ll devel­op as part of the grad­u­ate pro­gram and it’s not as easy as you might think. Mas­ter­ing this from an ear­ly stage in my legal career was invalu­able when it came to com­plet­ing client sec­ond­ments as an Asso­ciate and Senior Associate. 

What advice would you give to some­one start­ing the program?

It’s impor­tant to be open about dif­fer­ent prac­tice areas. An area you thought you loved at uni­ver­si­ty may be very dif­fer­ent in day to day legal prac­tice and rota­tions will help you iden­ti­fy that. Its also impor­tant to work with a num­ber of dif­fer­ent peo­ple so you learn dif­fer­ent styles of work­ing. Final­ly, it’s impor­tant to give every­thing a go and vol­un­teer to take every oppor­tu­ni­ty pre­sent­ed to you.

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