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Careers in law profile: Paige Darby

Careers in law profile: Paige Darby

By LIV Young Lawyers

Occupations Workplace 


Paige Darby is a legal policy officer specialising in criminal law reform at the Department of Justice and Regulation Victoria. She provided the following responses as part of our careers in law profile series.

Why did you decide to pursue a legal career?

I’ve always worked in the periphery of the law and had a keen interest in watching the “sausage” get made. I fell in love with criminology during my undergraduate degree and pursued a Master of Philosophy in Criminological Research at the University of Cambridge while on a leave of absence from my researcher role at the Parliament of Australia. While studying abroad I realised that I had a real passion for the law, legal analysis and criminal law reform.

How did you get your first job in the law and what was it?

I worked full-time at the Parliament of Victoria in a researcher role while completing my law degree after hours. In my final year of the Juris Doctor (JD), I approached the Sentencing Advisory Council (SAC) with an expression of interest in a secondment. I commenced work as a legal policy officer on the Sentencing Guidance in Victoria report, applying my Masters studies on the English model of sentencing guidance.

How and when did you move into your current position?

After finishing the JD, I commenced a senior associate position at the Court of Appeal working under the stewardship of two Justices of Appeal. While at the Court I completed my Practical Legal Training and had my requisite legal practice hours supervised by my judges. This opened up many doors in the legal profession and gave me invaluable exposure to the application and interpretation of the law. After being admitted, I applied for my current position in criminal law reform where I can apply my skills in legal analysis and pursue my passion for sentencing law.

What have you enjoyed most about each role?

I love that the law always offers up new challenges and learning opportunities. I feel like every step along the way I’m building a toolbox of skills to apply as novel tasks present themselves. In Parliament I was able to build a foundation in statutory interpretation and lawmaking processes. At the SAC, I looked at the law from a policy perspective and built skills in identifying issues and offering up solutions. At the Court of Appeal, I saw the law being applied and analysed the success and failure of that application in practice. Now, at the Department of Justice, I am drawing on all that experience when advising on criminal law policy and the drafting of legislation.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your career journey?

The law attracts brilliant and driven people. I’ve had the benefit of a working life surrounded by switched-on and successful people who inspire me to be my best.

What advice would you give to young lawyers looking to obtain their first professional role?

Don’t let the pressures of particular markers of success scare you off pursuing things that you love to do. As a graduate, the choices out there can be overwhelming. Try to focus on what it is you enjoy about the law and the kinds of people you admire in the law and find a way to do that thing and surround yourself with those people.

What has been the best career advice you have received to date?

I once went to a talk by Julian Burnside where he commented that it was only by chance that he ended up being exposed to refugee law and working in the human rights space. He said that the law will offer up many opportunities and that your career will be guided as much by luck as it is by intentions. But, he said, luck will come to those who work hard and who are open to the opportunities that arise. That has calmed my anxiety when soul-searching about my future in the law – I try to work hard, build skills and trust that the right opportunities will come my way!

In your view, what is the benefit of attending major events like the LIV Legal Careers Fair?

The LIV Legal Careers Fair is a great way to become aware of the variety of legal jobs out there and find examples of the kind of lawyer you want to be. You can get practical career advice from people who have been in the same position. And no question you ask is silly!

The LIV Young Lawyers thanks Paige for sharing her career insights.

The LIV Legal Careers Fair is on again this year at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on Thursday, 12 July 2018 (5-8pm). Registration is free but essential for all LIV student members, which you can sign-up for right now for free as well.



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