Jaya Prasad knew early on that she wanted a career in energy & resources law. After a short stint in restructuring and insolvency, she moved into mining and resources, both in private practice and in-house. However, COVID-19 border closures pushed a return from Perth to Brisbane, starting fresh in a new jurisdiction. We caught up with Jaya to find out what makes her so passionate about energy and resources law, how she managed PLT across WA and QLD, and her tips for networking in a new jurisdiction.
Where did you get your start in law?
After graduating and dipping my toe into a graduate role in restructuring and insolvency, my first job as a lawyer was with a boutique firm in Perth, Mining Access Legal, specialising in mining and resources law.
What triggered your return to Brisbane?
Although I had intended my move to Perth to be a long term decision, the border restrictions that came with COVID-19 were not sustainable and we decided to move back to Brisbane. I was lucky to find a role working in-house for an Australian mining company, which exposed me to the skills and experience that led to my current role at Herbert Smith Freehills in the Energy & Resources team. It’s a “pinch myself” moment knowing that I am on the path my first-year law student-self dreamed of – being an energy and resources lawyer for a global firm.
Where do you find so rewarding about working in energy and resources?
The energy and resources industry is so integral to the Australian economy and there are so many players creating innovative and exciting solutions as the industry transitions – the fact that I am able to support those companies in achieving their goals and add value to projects and plans that are the future of energy and resources in Australia is so rewarding.
What impact has PLT had on your work?
Being equipped with practical, in-depth knowledge about negotiation styles, tactics and management of expectations has transformed the way I provide legal advice by providing more efficient and pragmatic solutions for my clients.
Were you able to continue your PLT when you moved from Perth to Brisbane?
Being able to complete my studies while living between both QLD and WA, with consistent support from teachers and peers, made my experience so much less worrisome. The flexibility meant I always had support and never felt like I was missing out on any part of the experience.
How do you find the move from Perth to Brisbane? What tips would you have for lawyers moving interstate, to settle into a new jurisdiction and network of lawyers?
Moving interstate anywhere in Australia means dealing with two sets of rules, authorities and systems – while the difficulties are not unique to the legal profession, there is definitely a heightened need for attention to detail and organisational skills when dealing with both regulatory bodies. My number one recommendation for lawyers moving interstate is to initiate a conversation with the relevant legal authorities early on – I am extremely grateful for the help of the administrative staff both at the WA Legal Practice Board and the Queensland Law Society who made my relocation simpler and easier than if I had attempted the process on my own.
For lawyers settling into new jurisdictions, get involved! I was able to build a substantial Perth network in a short period of time thanks to the initiative and events of organisations such as the Law Society of WA, ARITA (Australian Restructuring, Insolvency and Turnaround Association), RINWA (Restructuring & Insolvency Network Western Australia) and ER Law (previously AMPLA).
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