Electra Dow is an associate in our Employment & Labour team team. Based in Sydney, Electra has been with Norton Rose Fulbright since 2014. We caught up with Simon to find out more about her experiences in Norton Rose Fulbright's graduate program, the support she receives from partners, and the global nature of her work.
What has your experience with NRF been to date?
I have had a fantastic experience at NRF and have felt very lucky to have been able to start my career here. Starting as a clerk and subsequently as a grad, it was really important to me to work with people who cared about my professional development, to be given opportunities to learn and develop as much as possible from an early stage and to be able to maintain a healthy and fulfilling work-life balance. The graduate program at NRF exceeded my expectations.
How would you describe the culture of the firm?
I would describe the culture of NRF as collaborative. There is definitely a clear focus on lawyers of all levels working together within and between teams, offices and countries to achieve the best results for our clients.
What does the graduate program entail?
As a graduate at NRF, you undertake four six-month rotations through different practice areas, with the option of applying for an international secondment in your final year. At the beginning of the program, you also have an induction where all the graduates across Australia come together for a week of training followed by a week of PLT before your rotations begin.
How did you choose your rotations?
I rotated through Insurance, Construction + Procurement and Employment + Labour before doing an international seat in the Asset Finance team in our London office. Even though I was mainly interested in litigious work from the outset, I wanted to make sure I rotated through a variety of practice areas to learn as much as possible about different areas of law and our diverse clients. Looking back, I am really glad I did this as it pushed me out of my comfort zone and has helped me develop a lot of soft skills which are transferable to any specialty.
What support did you receive during the program?
In each of my rotations, I always felt that my colleagues were focused on my development as a junior lawyer. I was always provided with opportunities to attend client meetings, appear in court, offer my opinion and take responsibility for matters. I also felt that I was appreciated as an individual with interests and commitments outside of work, and not just as a cog in the corporate machine. Most of all, being part of a formal graduate program meant I had a group of great friends to share the experience with. All of these factors meant that I felt supported both professionally and personally throughout the program.
How much exposure did you have to the partners?
In all of my rotations I had a high level of interaction with the partners and was able to work directly with them on many occasions. During my London secondment in particular, I shared an office with my supervising partner and worked directly with him 100% of the time. This was an invaluable experience to learn not only about the type of law I was working in and strategic decision-making, but also about how to develop and maintain client relationships.
What were the highlights for you during the program?
The highlight for me was absolutely being able to undertake an international secondment to our London office. This was an incredible opportunity to experience NRF’s global culture first-hand and to make professional connections (and friendships) with our international offices. Working in the market-leading Asset Finance team was an amazing (albeit challenging) experience and I feel really lucky to have been able to do this.
Did anything surprise you about NRF?
I was definitely surprised at how global the firm truly is. While many firms in Australia now have global counterparts, few provide tangible opportunities to work in and with international offices. To be able to work in our London office so early in my career was an unbelievable experience and opened my eyes to how much interaction there is between NRF’s offices.
What are you looking forward to in the next 12 months?
As I have now settled in Employment & Labour, I am looking forward to consolidating my skills and specialising in an area I am really passionate about.
What would you say to anybody considering clerkship opportunities with NRF?
I would definitely recommend that law students apply for a clerkship with NRF as it is a great opportunity to experience working in different practice areas and see what working in a corporate law firm is really like.
What does being a change navigator mean to you?
Being a change navigator means being someone who is flexible, resilient and embraces new challenges. It means not being restricted by tradition or convention but looking ahead to the future and focusing on progress, whether that be in achieving the best results for your client, becoming a better legal practitioner or creating space for diversity and social advancement.