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Meet the 2017 Young Lawyers president

Meet the 2017 Young Lawyers president

By Phoebe Blank

Legal Biography Young Persons 

The 2017 president of the LIV Young Lawyers (YL) is Phoebe Blank. We spoke with Phoebe about her career and experiences, and to find out what her goals and motivations are for YL in 2017. Can you describe your journey towards the decision to focus your career on workplace relations? I was lucky enough to complete my traineeship at a leading suburban firm with great lawyers and great mentors. I was exposed to a variety of practice areas and a variety of complex legal issues early on in my career. This really helped me identify what areas of law I enjoyed, as well as those I was less inclined to specialise in. After my first few years in legal practice I shifted my focus towards both family and employment law. I am really thankful for the mentoring that I received early in my career because it gave me the confidence and space to identify what I really enjoyed most – employment law. Becoming involved in YL and meeting like-minded people in the legal community really opened up so many opportunities for me. I am in my current role now, working alongside a leading workplace relations lawyer, Chris Molnar, because of the assistance and mentoring I received from previous YL president Jess Main. It's so important to build strong relationships within the legal profession to help each other discover opportunities and I encourage all YL members to get involved and start networking now. You have a strong track record of volunteering and community engagement in your career. How have you grown professionally and personally through taking on these roles? I think the best thing you can do as a young lawyer is to get involved in something that you are passionate about. I had previously volunteered at the Women's Legal Service and the Moreland Community Legal Service which are both fantastic organisations run by inspiring people who provide valuable assistance. I'm currently involved in the Ringwood Chamber of Commerce which is a great organisation that represents and promotes local business interests through networking and advocacy. Volunteering helped me professionally to meet other lawyers from all different walks of life who share common interests and it has helped me personally by increasing my overall job satisfaction. Our role as lawyers shouldn't just be stress, time sheets or deadlines and we shouldn't think of volunteering as something just to put on our CV. I think volunteering really helped me remember the reasons I became a lawyer in the first place. You are currently undertaking further study at Melbourne University, completing at Masters in Employment Law. How have you found balancing your own professional development with legal practice, and what are some of the methods you use to make the best use of your time? Further study is a great way to stay connected with academics in your practice area and to be at the forefront of new ideas and developments in case law. Time management is very important and I use my time on the train to and from work each day to read materials or catch up on emails. I love making lists of things to do and use my diary to plan my week so I can schedule in everything, including some time to relax. What outcomes do you hope to achieve for YL members in 2017? My focus for the YL in 2017 will be to actively promote YL involvement and engagement in current and new initiatives. We have fantastic new mentoring programs and exciting initiatives launching in 2017 which we hope will genuinely assist YL members who might be feeling disconnected or in need of inspiration, looking to change career paths/practice areas, or struggling to find a graduate role or just to get involved. Working together with the excellent YL Executive Committee, I hope to provide members with value and purpose to be connected with the YL section. What is the best career advice you ever received? The best career advice I've received was to never be afraid to speak up in meetings, have your ideas heard or to ask questions. Always take criticism or “feedback” for what it is – a gift given to you to make you better at what you do. And lastly, there is a huge misconception that you must love everything about your job every day. That is simply not true, as long as you find one thing to love about each day – you're doing fine! You’ve previously participated in the LIV Mentoring Program offering guidance to new members of the profession. How have you benefitted from mentoring in the past and how would you encourage YL members to reach out and develop these relationships with more experienced people? Starting out in my legal career, I was fortunate to receive great mentoring from exceptional lawyers such as Peter Milford, Richard de Gille and Santina Della-Rossa who shaped my career from an early stage. I received mentoring from senior lawyers who had experience in the judiciary, came from previous careers or were accredited specialists. As a result I realised how important it is to have a mentor and guidance early on in your career. That's the reason I participated in the mentoring program as a mentor myself, because it gave me the chance to provide advice to others on the issues that were also a concern for me starting my career. It also provides reassurance for junior lawyers or graduates to realise that they are not alone in their concerns and that there are many different solutions to their problems. Particularly with current challenges in the legal recruitment marketplace for students, and new graduates looking to identify the different pathways in law, mentoring can provide opportunities to stand out and help develop careers. The LIV mentoring programs are essential for YL members to build relationships with experienced lawyers. You don't know what you don't know when it comes to starting out in your legal career. The best way to get ahead is to connect with experienced professionals early. What is your key message to law students, graduates and new lawyers who might be thinking about getting involved in YL this year? Michael Jordan once said “you miss 100% of the shots you don't take”. Give everything a go, get involved and start today! The connections and people you meet are well worth it. The chairs of the committees are all friendly and welcoming people who would love to see you at meetings. If you're unsure, the best thing is to come to our next event. Please feel free to come up to me and have a chat about anything you like. Phoebe Blank 2017 YL President

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