I’m Jo Dean, I work as a HR consultant - Graduate Programs at Ashurst. I studied a Bachelor of Education at Sydney University and graduated in 1991.
I started my current role at Ashurst in July 2015. In my role I am primarily responsible for managing the clerkship and graduate programs in Sydney. This includes the entire graduate life cycle from campus marketing and brand building, to assessment and selection processes and management of the 18 month graduate program. I also have some national responsibilities in relation to the performance of the team.
Over the past 10 years I have specialised in graduate recruitment and development. Prior to Ashurst I worked for Woolworths where I gained experience in generalist HR, management of recognition programs and facilitation of talent development programs.
I am passionate about attracting top talent and assisting students successfully transition from university to a career in law.
Ashurst is a leading global law firm. In Australia we are spread across five offices nationally – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth. We advise Australian and international corporations, financial institutions and government clients. We are a full service commercial law firm practising in all areas of law, from corporate, banking, tax, employment, intellectual property and dispute resolution, to energy and resources, infrastructure and investment advice. We have 25 offices in 15 countries as well as other associated offices. With 400 partners and 1,250 lawyers, we offer the international insight of a global network combined with local market knowledge and expertise.
We recruit graduates as the future talent pipeline for the firm.
The work is varied and will depend on the practice group graduates are rotating through. Typical tasks that a graduate may perform can include legal research as well as assisting with the conduct of various types of litigious and transactional matters. Graduates may have the opportunity to attend court, client meetings and be asked to take minutes. They may also assist with preparing material for court and drafting of submissions, agreements or briefs for counsel. They’ll also have the opportunity to draft the first cut of an advice for a client. Graduates assist with business development activities including client initiatives, training and presentations, and occasionally client secondments.
Outside of commercial legal work, there are many opportunities at Ashurst for graduates to get involved with a variety of networks and initiatives, including pro bono work, corporate social responsibility initiatives, professional associations, and a myriad of social activities.
Key considerations for a career in commercial law at Ashurst:
Students need to complete a Bachelor of Law or a Juris Doctor. Regarding those who are internationally qualified and studying to re-qualify in Australia, they need to have studied a law degree that enables them to be qualified in Australia for the relevant graduate intake.
During the interview, we’ll use both competency and scenario-based questions to find out if graduates have the behaviours we are looking for.
Attention to detail is crucial. I would recommend that candidates take the time to prepare for their application and interview. Preparation is essential as it will give graduates confidence and improve their success rate. I would encourage graduates to be themselves. We are not looking for one type of graduate and we are really interested to get to know all candidates individually. Don’t be scripted in your responses, be genuine and succinct.
There’s absolutely no Ashurst “type”. We want to actively engage a broad range of minds with a diverse range of backgrounds, all united by a common set of strengths.
Some other key skills include:
Challenges vary according to the graduate’s individual experience but common themes include:
Common highlights that graduates share with me at our regular one-on-one catch ups include:
Quotes from previous graduates:
"That’s an aspect of the firm’s culture that I really enjoy – the fact that we balance stretching projects and high-quality legal advice with an exceptional level of support and camaraderie. It’s reassuring to know that help and resources are never far away given the amount of responsibility you can have early on." (Tom Jalland Lawyer 2, 2015 Graduate Program)
"I’ve benefited from excellent support, sound advice and in-depth feedback. The firm has an open-door culture and even senior lawyers and partners are really approachable and never too busy to explain tasks and concepts."( Mary Azzi Lawyer 2, 2015 Graduate Program)
National induction will be the start of the 18 month graduate program, introducing graduates to all the resources they need to support their work and training. Over the course of the 18 month graduate program, there will be a mix of classroom and on-the-job experience.
They will also complete their PLT (practical legal training) through College of Law as part of a tailored Ashurst Program.
In collaboration with the graduates, we plan three rotations of six months each and review that plan at regular intervals. Each rotation starts with a handover and training, complete with technical expertise, so graduates know exactly what to expect.
The future outlook is positive although there are many changes in the legal landscape: