Speed Networking 2018: Recap

Keynote address: Cindy Davies


Cindy Davies delivered the keynote address on the evening, imparting helpful tips and tricks on building a professional network.

Did you know?

  • 1 in 5 jobs are not advertised;
  • 1 in 3 employers use informal networking to hire;
  • 26% of graduates find employment through networking.

Who should you be networking with? 

  • Peers
  • Academics 
  • Friends and family 
  • Professionals at industry events

Top tips 

  • Practice practice practice!
  • Think of it as a way to find out about a person
  • Ask good open ended questions, and make sure they are not all about work 
  • Be more interested in them than you (think of the conversation as a tennis match not one way street)
  • Use LinkedIn and other professional social media networks
  • Follow up after the event - maybe send a thank you email or invite them for coffee!

Who was there?

Kate Grudzinskas

Environmental Defenders Office (EDO)

Kate is a litigation solicitor at EDO.  She describes her job as 'full on' but she loves it.  She particularly enjoys having university students coming to the office as volunteers and clinical legal education students.  Previously, Kate has worked in Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and has worked in commercial practice.

A fun fact about Kate? During university, one of her stranger jobs was an admin role at the Cerebral Palsy League.

Wendy Pei 

Queensland Treasury

Wendy is a graduate officer in the tax litigation department at the Office of State Revenue.  She deals with state tax and her role primarily consists of appeals work, debt litigation and tax advices.  Wendy chose to take a government job because of her interest in administrative law.  She has found that the government is flexible, family-friendly and a great workplace for women.  Before accepting the graduate position, Wendy worked at Coles and did lots of pro bono work during university.  Her advice for students is to develop their soft skills and to get ready for a culture shock when entering the workplace.

A fun fact about Wendy?  She loves to creatively express herself through her clothes!

Brendan Ryan and Wendy Mulcahy

Mulcahy Ryan Lawyers  

Brendan and Wendy work as criminal defence lawyers in Brisbane, dealing with major crime matters from murder and other serious violent offences to possession of drugs.  Both stressed that working as a criminal defence lawyer will challenge your beliefs and it is very emotive.  It is a difficult job where you will have to fill many roles (ie lawyer, counselor, advisor, confidant etc).

Brendan has had a varied career, previously working as a barrister, in the Northern Territory, in private practice, and now as a founder of Mulcahy Ryan Lawyers.  He said that it is really important to be a compassionate person when you are a criminal defence lawyer. You need to have some humanitarian aspect to your character to see that there is always good in people.

Wendy graduated from law school at the age of 40, at which time she had two young children.  She used her network to get 2 weeks worth of work experience for Brendan.  Her first task was watching CCTV footage - by looking at clouds and shadows she was able to prove that the footage had been doctored by the police.  She enjoys the stress of criminal work, the dynamic nature of the work, and the fact that you are really helping people. 

What's the most frequent question she gets asked?  'How can you represent someone like that?'

Her response? Everyone deserves representation.

Everyone deserves representation.
— Wendy Mulcahy

Mark McKecknie  

Queensland Bar

Mark is a commercial barrister, practising in administrative law, public law, native title.  Before being called to the bar, Mark worked at a boutique firm for 2 years then at Ashurst for 6 years.     Mark enjoys being a barrister because he likes being the 'one in the arena'.  He likes being a client's trusted advisor.  Two important skills every barrister should have are professionalism and litigating with rapport. For those looking to specialise, Mark says there is greater opportunities at the bar; it can be easy to become 'pigeonholed' at a firm.  However, junior barrister should start with a more general practice, as to specialise you need to be quite senior. 

Mark's advice? Keep your options open - there's no need for a 10-year-plan. If you work hard and you are smart you will go far.  Everyone needs a little bit of luck, but you can make your own luck by seizing every opportunity that comes your way.

If you work hard and you are smart you will go far.
— Mark McKecknie

Jess Hsiao

Phoenix Law

Jess is a law graduate at Phoenix Law, working in the personal injury practice group.  Before accepting the graduate position, Jess had worked as a law clerk, at a migration firm and done a clerkship at a large international firm.  Jess enjoys personal injury work because it is formulaic, organised and follows a set procedure.  She particularly enjoys the fact that she can develop her language skills (Mandarin and Japanese) at work!

Jess's strangest non-law job? A dental assistant!

Sian Littledale

Legal Aid

Sian is a criminal defence lawyer at Legal Aid, dealing with a whole range of matters from domestic violence orders, to theft and drug charges.  She often works as the duty lawyer.  Sian chose to accept a job at Legal Aid as she knew that 'Eagle Street wasn't for her'.  She previously worked as an associate to Morrison and Brown JJ where she developed her interest in criminal law.   Sian also always had an interest in human rights law and criminal defence law is as close as you can get to that in Brisbane.

A fun fact about Sian? She is an avid reader! Most recently she read 'We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves' by Karen Joy Fowler.