Jonah Wood believes university is an excellent time to test out potential career directions, guided by your own interests, and ideally under the watchful eye of an experienced mentor. Insights spoke to Jonah about his law school experience, what he’s doing now, and any advice he might have for law students to make the most of their university experience.
University is a marathon, not a sprint
Jonah, who recently graduated with the Victoria University Prize for Outstanding Student, credits his achievement with consistency.
“I think the biggest contributing factor is being consistent over a long period of time,” explained Jonah. “It is also important to engage with the learning process, apply yourself and ask questions. Be consistent throughout your time at university in relation to study, assignments and exams if you want to maximise your results. University is a marathon, not a sprint. “
He also believes university is the ideal time to experiment and gain experience in different fields.
“University is a great opportunity to test out potential career directions, whether that means volunteering at community legal centres, doing work experience in government roles or interning at private law firms,” said Jonah. “It might also mean gaining experience in fields external to law and finding that is the right fit for you. If you explore as many options as you can while you are studying, not only will you be able to build up your CV in a competitive market but you will be able to narrow down your area of interests!”
“It is also important to follow your own interests. Your friends might be pursuing a clerkship at a top tier law firm, however you may have no interest in following that path. And that is okay!”
Find a mentor in your area of interest
Jonah also encourages law students to seek out mentors.
“Find a mentor, preferably in your area of interest.” said Jonah. “Do not underestimate the simplicity of reaching out to someone for mentorship, whether you do that by an email, LinkedIn, telephone call or in person. Bribe them with coffee – they will be more than happy to share their knowledge. A mentor can provide guidance and answer any questions you have about pathways, the industry or their role specifically.”
Jonah credits university and Practical Legal Training with helping to prepare him for the practical work of law.
“University and PLT have provided me with the foundation and skills to start my career as a lawyer,” said Jonah. “They have provided me with the skills to identify the relevant legal issues and how to approach finding a solution. Most importantly, it has taught me how to apply these skills bearing in mind that I will not always know the answer and to identify when I will need to do some research or seek a colleague’s opinion.”
Making meaningful contributions towards client outcomes
Ballarat local Jonah has returned to his hometown to work at Heinz Law.
“I am currently doing my rotations as a law graduate through the areas of litigation, commercial, property, family law, and wills and estates,” said Jonah. “Each area has their individual challenges. I think the main challenges applicable to any area include problem solving, managing client expectations, knowing when to ask for assistance, managing workloads and prioritising tasks.”
“One of the most rewarding aspects of my role is being able to make significant and meaningful contributions towards the outcome of our client’s legal matters,” said Jonah. “I have been able to apply the skills accumulated during my studies to solve problems and continue learning to achieve the best possible result for our client’s. Receiving invaluable feedback from the experienced practitioners at Heinz Law has also been rewarding.”