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DLA Piper Australia

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Tom Borland

DLA puts a huge emphasis on pro bono work and there is a great range of local and international initiatives graduates can get involved in if they are interested --- One of the best things about working on pro bono matters is the autonomy available to you, and it can often lead to you meeting and working with DLA lawyers from all over the world.

6.00 AM    

My alarm goes off and after contemplating hitting snooze for the third time, I jump up and get my running gear on. Every month or so a group of DLA folks meet at the Melbourne Botanical Gardens before work to do a few laps, but this morning it is just a solo run around Princes Park.

7.00 AM

After the run, I’ve enjoyed a shower to clear my head for the day to come. Now it’s time to get dressed. The DLA Piper office dress code is “dress for your day”. In practice, this means that if I have a hearing or a client meeting that day, I wear a suit; otherwise, I have the freedom to wear pretty much whatever I want within reason. Today, one of our clients is coming to the office for a meeting, so I wear a suit.

7.45 AM  

I'm lucky enough to live quite close to the CBD, so weather permitting I usually walk to work. The walk is a great opportunity to listen to some music or a podcast – recently I've been listening to NAB Morning Call which gives a quick rundown of the overnight news and global market happenings. But more often, as I am today, I am in the mood for music. I just saw a band called One Step Closer play in Collingwood on the weekend with some friends from DLA, so I put on their latest album This Place You Know.

8.15 AM 

I arrive at the office and get my workstation set up before making my way to the staff café to grab some breakfast. Silva and Emily spoil us every day with a great range of food so I grab some yoghurt, fruit, and granola and have a chat with some friends in another team at DLA who are also grabbing their breakfast (the breakfast in the Melbourne office is genuinely the envy of secondees from international offices or visitors from our other Australian offices whenever they come here).

8.45 AM

Now back at my desk, I usually start my day by responding to overnight emails. With a few deadlines looming, today looks like it will be a steadily busy day, so I tackle the emails and review my to-do list before the morning kicks into gear. Most people make it to work by around 8:30-8:45 am, but it is pretty varied, and DLA offers great flexibility for those who need to start / finish earlier or later for whatever reason. 
Our graduate programme involves three six-month rotations through different teams. I'm currently completing a rotation in the firm's Finance team (part of the broader Finance, Projects & Restructuring group), and have been at DLA for about two years (including around one year as a paralegal), after completing my first two rotations in the Litigation & Regulatory (Commercial Dispute Resolution) and Corporate teams respectively.

10.00 AM   

With the admin out of the way and a couple of quick tasks crossed off the to-do list, it's time for a coffee! I often grab some of the other graduates who I started at the firm with a year ago or some of my teammates, and we head out for a quick walk to get our caffeine hit. My favourite spot at the moment is Oli & Levi’s, but it’s raining and windy this morning so one of the other graduates and I just grab a coffee from the staff café on Level 14.

10.20 AM

Time for the first meeting of the morning – a call with a Senior Associate who sits across from me but is working from home today, a Special Counsel from our Sydney office, and our client which is based out of Boston in the US. Many of our clients are overseas, particularly in the Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the US, so we often have calls planned to catch each other at the start or end of our respective days.
We've been working on an asset purchase and sale deal for this client for the last couple of months, and completion is scheduled to occur in a few weeks' time. There are a lot of documents that need to be prepared, and we settle on a plan to ensure we have everything ready in time. 

12.30 PM

Having spent the last few hours preparing the completion documents, I’m feeling quite hungry so decide to see if anyone else would like to get some lunch. I normally make the effort to get some fresh air for lunch, and usually I sit at Collins Place or Treasury Gardens with some of the other graduates.

1.00 PM

Back at my desk, one of the Senior Associates in my team calls me over to discuss some work I handed her yesterday afternoon. We're acting for an international client which is proposing to acquire Australian land on which they intend to build a solar farm, and I had a first go at drafting the Foreign Investment Review Board application letter. To my relief, it wasn't a bad first attempt, and she explains the changes she has made before sending it off to one of the Partners for a final review. 

1:30 PM

I see an email pop up from one of the Partners in my team. One of our Australian clients has asked for some advice regarding a proposed conversion from a proprietary limited company to a public unlisted company. They have some questions about the timeline of the proposed conversion, and the steps they'll need to take to ensure it's conducted in line with requirements under the Corporations Act. We'll need to turn this one around quickly, so I get started on some research with the help of our amazing Library team.

2.30 PM

Client contact has got to be one of my favourite aspects of the job, and as a junior at DLA there is certainly a lot of it. Today one of our clients, the founder of a MedTech start-up, has come in to sign a suite of documents that need to be executed in wet ink (yes, that is still a thing…). This client is taking out a venture debt facility, and it involves coordination of around 40 documents to be executed in four jurisdictions (Australia, Singapore, Cayman Islands and the US), and with about 30 counterparties. I have been lucky enough to be given the opportunity to project manage this entire process, and have been interfacing with the client, opposing Australian counsel, and the local counsel in Singapore, Cayman Islands and the US. 

3.30 PM 

With the meeting done, it's back to the research about the company conversion. After some initial difficulty and flicking through a few textbook chapters and some cases, I think I've found an answer. Just to be sure, I have a quick chat with one of the Solicitors in my team before putting my thoughts in an email and sending it off to the Partner. We'll discuss this in the morning and tee up a call with the client to go through our findings.

5.30 PM

Having spent the last couple of hours dealing with the venture debt facility and asset sale and purchase that I am assisting with, I decide it is time to do a bit of preparation for the pro bono calls I will be doing tomorrow night with clients at the Fitzroy Legal Service. DLA puts a huge emphasis on pro bono work and there is a great range of local and international initiatives graduates can get involved in if they are interested – for example, some of my friends have been working at the Afghanistan crisis response and Ukrainian visa clinics that DLA have been involved in with Refugee Legal. One of the best things about working on pro bono matters is the autonomy available to you, and it can often lead to you meeting and working with DLA lawyers from all over the world.

6.00 PM  

Just as I was jumping back into the completion documents I had been working on, my supervisor says, ‘It’s 6.00 pm. I hope you’re packing up soon?’. I finish what I am working on for the day, update my to-do list for tomorrow and start packing up.

6.30 PM  

After submitting my time entries for the day (a tough learning curve for any junior lawyer), it's home time. I'd love to say that I can cook, but I’d prefer to avoid setting off the fire alarms in my apartment tonight. A mate of mine has recently moved into the area, so we grab a bite to eat on Lygon St. After that, I would usually watch a TV show to wind down, but I have just finished watching Severance and Attack on Titan (both of which I highly recommend) and don’t feel like starting anything new, so tonight I’ll just listen to some music and watch a few YouTube videos before getting a bit of sleep.  


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