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Like daughter, like father: How accountant David Tran came to study law alongside his daughter - and graduate with First Class Honours
26 May 2022

Like daughter, like father: How accountant David Tran came to study law alongside his daughter - and graduate with First Class Honours

Published on 26 May 2022

A qualified Chartered Accountant, David Tran spent much of his career at Austrade before turning his attention to the law. However, he’s a living embodiment of doing well at what you love, earning a high distinction for his Honours Research Thesis, and graduating from law with First Class Honours. Four years ago, his teenage daughter also took up law at the University of Queensland. We caught up with David to find out what it was like studying law alongside his daughter, how his work has benefited from studying law, and what advice he might have for those considering law later in life.

What attracted you to the law, after a career with Austrade?

I am a Chartered Accountant, and I have worked for the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) for a long time. About four years ago, my daughter started her BCom/LL.B(Hons) at the University of Queensland. I can talk ‘accounting’ with her, but it is not as interesting and exciting as discussing case law. As a chance to meaningfully connect with my teenage daughter, studying law ‘with her’ doesn’t seem a bad idea! Studying law also helps me to perform better at Austrade. For instance, I have developed online interactive training on Foreign Interference Laws to help my colleagues to understand the new law that affects our everyday work in foreign trade and investment.

What sets your PLT experience apart? Was it the flexibility, the practical/hands-on approach to learning, or the support you received?

The first time I heard about the College of Law was from my commercial clients. It turns out that the more I talk about PLT with my clients, the more I find that businesses prefer College of Law for PLT. Put simply, universities are great at teaching concept, theory, and research, but some lecturers would not have the current practical experience to help students into the legal workforce. College of Law lecturers are all current practising lawyers. The mentoring program is also great, and I am lucky to have Graham Haas as my Mentor. My daughter, Minh Chau is now working for Gadens Lawyers, and she will start PLT with College of Law soon.

How do you hope to use the law to give back to the community?

It is often said that ‘ignorance of the law is not an excuse’, but should we then do more to help our community to understand and to comply with the law? This is true of Asian communities, with whom the physical discipline of children often arises, and it’s important to discuss the law in the context of cultural norms like this. I am also interested in doing more pro bono work to help more people, especially those who are disadvantaged and who have language barrier access to law.

My passion lies in helping disadvantaged groups as reflected by the title of my Honours research thesis is “Are Australian minority shareholders still crying in vain? How are the interests of minority shareholders protected in Australia, compared to New Zealand, and England?”

As a later-career lawyer, what advice would you have for those looking to enter law later in life?

Five out of six students in my Honours Class were mature-aged students. It is an example that it is never too late to learn and pursue a second career. Furthermore, your work & life experience and your common sense will help you tremendously when you study law. I received High Distinction for my Honours research thesis and graduated with First-Class Honours. Much of this was thanks to my Honours Supervisors Dr Tom Round, Dr Rohan Price, and Dr Alessandro Pelizzon. Moreover, when you choose to do something you love, you tend to do it well. By the same token, Professor Nicole Rogers has inspired me to love Environment Law, which is very relevant for my Property Law studies at College of Law.           

What's the most rewarding part of being involved in the law?

Our clients come to us when they have problems, or simply to mitigate legal risk. It is very rewarding to know that when future clients come to me, I will be able to give legal advice or to solve problems for them. There are many areas of law that lawyers can choose to practise. I prefer areas such as migration, conveyancing, and wills & estates practices.

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