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Dealing diplomatically with articles


Cite as: (2004) 78(10) LIJ, p. 17

Articles can be a difficult time for those who have had first careers, former diplomat and now Corrs Chambers Westgarth CEO and partner John Denton told a Later Lawyers Network (LLN) event.

A later lawyer himself, Mr Denton was guest speaker at the Law Institute evening, held on 25 August. His first career, after completing a bachelor of arts and law, was with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Mr Denton told the audience of about 55 that as an articled clerk he became extremely bored with the incessant instructions, which included advice like “wear a suit when attending court”. It was advice he didn’t really need after having worked as a diplomat.

Halfway through his articles year, DFAT appointed Mr Denton as the Charge D’Affaires for the Australian government and responsible for closing the Australian embassy and evacuating Australian citizens from Iraq.

He said that ironically he had to appear before the Board of Examiners to explain why he shouldn’t have his articles extended for the time he was abroad.

Mr Denton said he worked in workplace relations (among other practice areas) and liked this area because it was new and it was easier for a mature-aged student to do well in an area which wasn’t steeped in historical cases and legislation.

Institute Young Lawyers’ Section (encompassing the LLN) manager Susan Ng said Mr Denton had been an interesting and inspiring speaker.

“Mr Denton said one of the things that struck him was that at [job] interviews there was not much value placed on his previous career – which was something that all the later lawyers at the event identified with,” Ms Ng said.

Networking events, such as the one held in August, are a high priority for those who have chosen to be a lawyer for their second or third career, according to an online survey conducted by the LLN.

Ms Ng said the survey’s aim was to gain information for the LLN committee on what later lawyers needed. “The survey confirmed what we thought. Later lawyers want networking opportunities and career information, which the LLN is providing.”

For further information on the LLN contact Ms Ng on tel 9607 9379 or email


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