Special Counsel Max Williams didn't intend to build a career in Wills and Estates. Or even in Law, for that matter.
But as in all good stories, a twist of fate put Max on the road to specialisation – and the College of Law was there to help him along.
Now, Max is back at the College. Only this time, he's the one imparting the words of wisdom.
Here, Max recounts his path to discovering his passion – and how the College of Law’s LLM played a key role in that journey.
Practice reveals the perfect path
I did well in high school. So naturally, my family wanted me to go into medicine. But I'm not good with blood.
Personally? I wanted to go into marketing.
So we reached a compromise: Instead of medicine, I would do a double degree in Communications – and Law.
But for most of that degree, I had zero intention of going into Law. It didn't interest me at all. In fact, if I'm being brutally honest, I found it rather boring.
It wasn't until the end of my degree that things changed.
I started my PLT. And suddenly, I could connect the theory with on-the-ground practice. Most importantly, I could help clients with their real-world problems.
It felt right. I remember thinking, "I can see myself doing this."
A serendipitous directive
I got my first job in a suburban firm on the Gold Coast where I practised a bit of everything. Family Law, Criminal Law – you name it, I tried it!
But Property Law was my favourite. So I moved to a larger firm where I could make it my focus.
It was there I had my sliding doors moment when one day, my boss said, “Max – I want you to do Wills and Estates.”
I had minimal experience in that area. But as a junior, you do what you're told.
Besides – no one else in the firm wanted to do it!
I decided to make the most of it. I made Wills and Estates my niche. And as it turns out – I loved it. I’d found an area of law that I was genuinely passionate about.
But I had big gaps in my knowledge. And there was no one at the firm to mentor me.
I needed help. That’s when I turned to the College of Law.
Discovering the LLM
It was at a Wills and Estates conference on the Gold Coast where I met Bryan Mitchell, an accredited specialist from Queensland.
I told him, “I want to specialise in Wills and Estates. What should I do?”
His advice changed my career. He said, “Listen – I did my masters at the College of Law. And that really prepared me for accreditation.”
So on his recommendation, I enrolled in the Master of Laws (Applied Law), Wills and Estates.
It was the best decision I could have made.
Finding my mentors
There were so many things to like about the degree:
- I could major specifically in Wills and Estates
- I had access to incredibly thorough content
- I got to meet peers who were as passionate about Wills and Estates as I was
But my favourite thing about the course?
The teaching fellows.
At the College, I was learning from colleagues. People who were not only actively practising – but who had been doing it for a very long time. So they knew what they were talking about.
It didn’t feel like a degree. It felt more like a mentorship.
I am very proud of that master's degree on my wall. It was my first, perfect step to accreditation.
Now, I'm back at the College – only this time, I'm on the other side of the lectern.
The student becomes the master
I've always wanted to be a teaching fellow. So about two years ago, I emailed the College and asked them to think of me if any opportunities became available.
A few months later, I was offered a position as a teaching fellow of Family Provision. And I gladly accepted!
I've been lecturing for a while now. And I really enjoy it.
I love speaking to students and imparting knowledge that will help them advance their careers.
It’s a great feeling, to watch the metaphorical light bulb go off in a student’s mind. At that moment, you know you’ve helped them connect the dots. And get one step closer to becoming an accredited lawyer.
Just like my teaching fellows at the College helped me.
A chance to do good
I now work at a firm that specialises in Wills and Estates. It means I can work exclusively in my favourite area of law – and continue developing my expertise.
I often have colleagues say, “I don't know how you do it. Dealing with death all day.”
And it's funny because that’s how I feel about, say, Criminal Law. I don't know how those lawyers do it.
For me, it’s the universal nature of Wills and Estates. You see, not everyone's going to get a divorce. Not everyone's going to be charged with a crime.
But I can guarantee that every single person will eventually have an experience with wills and estates. Either a loved one will die, or they themselves will die.
And at that moment, when everything feels like a total mess, I can help by providing a clear way forward.
I'm not a counsellor. I can't help with emotional grief. But I can certainly help with the administrative side of a loved one’s passing. And that, at least, allows me to help someone through a very difficult time.
Considering specialisation? The College of Law’s Master of Laws (Applied Law) is taught by specialist practitioners like Max – not career academics.
Download the course guide to see our extensive list of majors and subjects.
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The LLM set me up beautifully for accreditation” – Adeline Schiralli, Keypoint Law
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