I try to wake up at the same time every weekday, unless I have had a particularly long night. I have to fit in exercise before I start work because I don't have the mental fortitude to go to the gym after a long day. I also wear the same thing every alternate day – something that is easy, comfortable and, most importantly, hides all food and coffee spillage.
I am in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) stream, which sits in the Corporate practice group. When I first started in the group, I would aim to get to the office before 9am, but then I realised that nobody in my team cared when I arrived, so long as I got my work done. There's not many of us in the team, and we usually all go downstairs for coffee because, despite spending the vast majority of our waking hours together, we still like one another.
The mornings are a good time to think through the more difficult work. Otherwise, it can be difficult to focus on one task for a significant period of time. We all sit in the same area on the floor, so the culture is generally 'Why email when you can chat?' We are often in each other's offices, taking calls, asking questions or discussing how to approach work.
As part of our graduate program, we have two one-year rotations in different practice groups. This week is my last before I move on to my next rotation, in Real Estate and Development, and one of the busiest. This morning I am drafting an advice on the limitations of privacy and surveillance device legislation but, halfway through, a senior associate with whom I am working on a significant contract that has just been executed comes by and asks for a breakdown of what has been happening in the past 24 hours. This takes precedence, and I spend the next hour distilling the relevant issues from a stream of emails attached to other emails.
I have a scheduled call with a potential client who is interested in our Allens Accelerate services. The TMT team runs our Accelerate start-up and emerging companies practice, which provides a set of free online agreements and documentation commonly used by startups, and that's called the A-Suite; and a low-cost, fixed-fee legal service, where we draft, review and advise on a variety of legal and commercial issues facing startups. Being involved with the practice provides a rare insight into how certain companies and ideas can scale and succeed. The variety of our Accelerate portfolio lets me work on matters that may not necessarily sit squarely in the TMT sector, and it is comforting to know that the collegiality of the firm means that while you may have no capacity to advise on a tax question, someone else in the firm definitely will.
It's also a fun and steep learning curve to be running a call alone as a junior. After the call, I write up a summary of the potential client, the scope of work required, a quote and the business idea, and run it by one of our partners for a sense check.
A box of execution documents turns up for my review – happily, they don't demand a detailed page turn. It's satisfying to have the real thing, given I've seen this matter to its completion since I started working on it almost nine months ago. Unfortunately, deadlines are tight and I am too intimately acquainted with this matter to spend time briefing someone else on what to look for. Otherwise, I would have enlisted the help of our (awesome) TMT paralegals.
A tea break with the two other juniors in TMT, who are a year ahead of me and have provided me with a lot of emotional support over the year. It's the last week in the group before we part ways and settle into the practice groups (or, for me, the second rotation ), and I will miss them.
We have a running internal communications thread using Skype for Business that mostly revolves around discussion of what to eat for lunch. Some weeks I am prudent and make my lunches on the weekends. These weeks tend to coincide with those weeks later in the month when I regret not setting a budget. Today we all get Vietnamese together and eat at our communal table in the kitchen, where we sometimes turn on the TV. The Winter Olympics have been on and, all of a sudden, everyone is an expert on curling technique.
Obligatory time to stand up at my desk. It's my own fault, because I insisted on a calendar invite from our secretaries to stand for an hour after lunch every day. I stand for about 10 minutes.
Time for some creative work, so I finalise my advice for the partner to review and turn to drafting instead. I find it fun but often the timeframes demand a quick turnaround and, for some reason, we are particularly busy at this time of the year. I am aiming to send out a first draft of two agreements – one for a digital construction software-as-a-service tool, and another for a blockchain trial agreement. We use standard precedents as a starting point, but often drafting will also involve considerations of issues that, again, sit outside TMT, such as the consideration of intellectual property rights and the unfair contracts regime. It provides a good excuse to call on expertise from other groups, and also expand knowledge of other, often niche, topics.
I am reviewing some corporate governance documents for general legal compliance, after a cup of tea and biscuit break. It's another odd bucket that TMT deals with simply due to the fact that many of our clients in the sector are subject to significant regulation.
It's dinner at the firm tonight as I'm really busy and have to work late. Since our new renovations, we eat together on level 28, which has our wonderful firm art collection. It's also a good chance to see people from other parts of the firm, and to eat a thousand Mentos mints.
I send out my first drafts of the agreements, and focus on business development work. The TMT partners are not only supportive but actively encouraging of BD work among juniors. I have been preparing a presentation on space law – which includes issues as random and niche as startups launching nano-satellites, insurance and liability considerations for launch and return activity, responsibility for space debris, questions of exploitation and ownership of outer space and asteroid mining, and commercialisation of space-related technology. I make it a point to include as many puns in the presentation as possible.
I end the night with a new habit of trying to file all my emails from the day, then go to my sent emails and repeat. It's an easy way to end the day neatly, without requiring much brain functionality. I am not a strict advocate of 'inbox down to zero' but I subscribe to news and sector updates that are useful for business development and keeping in touch with the TMT sector – if and when I ever get a chance to read them.
Bedtime, once I have finished watering my plants and generally pottering around after I get home.