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Careers in Law Profile: Alex Metherell

Careers in Law Profile: Alex Metherell

By LIV Young Lawyers

Barristers Occupations 

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Alex Metherell is a barrister with the Victorian Bar and provided the following career profile to LIV Young Lawyers as part of our ongoing careers in law series.

Why did you decide to pursue a legal career?

I love working with words. I sought the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of others and I have always been passionate about advocating on behalf of those who need a voice. 

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

My first job was at a boutique family law firm.  I had completed work experience at the firm in Year 10 and was fortunate enough to be taken on board for casual reception duties when I finished Year 12.  On a particular busy day in the lead up to Christmas, the Principal of the firm asked me if I could type, and I never looked back!

How and when did you move into your current position?

I am currently a Barrister at the Victorian Bar. In order to join the Victorian Bar, you must first pass the Bar Exam and then the top 40 entrants are offered a place in the Bar Readers Course. (It is an anonymous exam, so a place in the Readers Course is entirely based on merit.) After passing the exam in November 2017, I completed the Bar Readers Course and signed the Bar Roll in May 2018.

Why did you decide to go to the Bar?

As a solicitor, I took the opportunity to appear in Court as much as possible. The thrill of running a matter before a Judge is unlike any other legal task. However, there are some limitations to your ability to appear as you become more senior in a law practice and have different key performance indicators. Also, as a solicitor, I had not undertaken the advocacy training required of a barrister. I was nervous about taking the next step, particularly where I enjoyed my role as a solicitor. Barristers are self-employed and there are inherent risks associated with going out on your own. However, going to the Bar has been a dream of mine since law school. After losing a parent, it became apparent to me that life is too short not to follow your dreams.

What have you enjoyed most about each role?

My favourite aspect of being a solicitor was the opportunity to build an ongoing rapport with my clients. I was also particularly lucky to work with an excellent team of solicitors and I gained a lot of knowledge from bouncing case theories and strategies off them. As a barrister, the most enjoyable aspect of this role is when you are making a good argument and the Judge is with you, and you secure a great outcome for your client. There is nothing more satisfying!

What is the most rewarding aspect of your career journey?

The most rewarding aspect of my journey from a professional perspective is developing a sound knowledge in the law.  When you start your first role, you wonder how you will ever be in a position to confidently provide advice in a given area without first spending an hour speaking to your Principal or doing research. However, you get to a point when you start to know the answers because you have seen the question before or have developed an understanding of the law. The most rewarding aspect of my journey from a personal perspective has been the relationships I have built with my colleagues and friends in the law. I have been privileged to train with a talented group of Readers and to have the benefit of extremely experienced mentors who are incredibly generous with their time and knowledge.

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

Be available, reliable and work hard. If you can go over and above for an employer or organisation at the start, you will set yourself up for the rest of your career. 

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

“Why die wondering?”

What changes have you noticed in practising law in an increasingly online world, and how have you upskilled in this space?

Everything is now done online, from filing applications to negotiating with other parties. I have taken on board recommendations of helpful apps that are relevant to my practice area, and attempted to have a greater online presence. As a barrister, you can guarantee that your instructor or client will Google you before they brief you!

Did you have any mentors? Who were they?

My first formal mentor was a Senior Associate from a large firm who gave a presentation at Monash University about sitting the New York Bar Exam. He invited interested persons to reach out to him for a coffee. I took up this offer and from there, he assisted me to build my resume and locate work experience opportunities. This connection provided me with the opportunity to secure work experience for a Senior Counsel in the commercial arbitration space. Informally, I viewed the Principal of the boutique family law firm where I worked as a mentor. At the Bar, there is a formal mentor program. My mentor is John Williams of Counsel and my senior mentor is Andrew Kirkham AM QC RFD, both incredibly experienced advocates.

What do you like to do outside of the law?

I like to keep active, in particular, going skiing at Falls Creek and trail running with my husband.

What is your favourite legal TV show or movie and why?

Tough question! “A Few Good Men”, because Demi Moore’s character, Lt Cdr JoAnne Galloway, is dogged and compassionate (two essential characteristics of a good lawyer!)

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

These events are incredible networking opportunities.  I met my first mentor at law school by attending events put on by the law school and the LIV.  You never know when the next opportunity or connection will present itself.

The LIV Young Lawyers thanks Alex for her time.

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.


Disclaimer: Views expressed by commentators are not necessarily endorsed by the Law Institute of Victoria Ltd (LIV). No responsibility is accepted by the LIV for the accuracy of information contained in the comments and the LIV expressly disclaims any liability for, with respect to or arising from any such views.

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