My Clerkship Experience at Meridian

My Clerkship at Meridian Lawyers – Reflection

I was welcomed to Meridian Lawyers as a clerkship student in November. As well as assisting with drafting documents and legal research, I was surprised and privileged to have an experience that stretched far beyond these common activities.

Within one week, I had attended a trial at the County Court, accompanied solicitors to hearings with AHPRA regulatory boards, and witnessed a coronial inquest into the death of a prisoner. This exposed me to broad cross-section of the legal system with which I had previously had little or no contact. I had not foreseen that such varied elements could all come within the ambit of medical law, and it was striking that I was able to observe a jury empanelment one day and sit around a table with the Pharmacy Board of Australia on the next. It also meant that I was meeting barristers and interacting with the clients themselves, the latter of which was a fantastic experience after the Joe Bloggs and Jane Doe hypotheticals of law school. In dealing directly with the real people affected by the outcome, cases that were already highly interesting in nature became even more compelling.

I also received guidance in the more conventional elements of law: writing chronologies, assessing quantum for damages, drafting affidavits, research into both legislation and common law, and critical analysis. The wide variety of activities provided me with an invaluable insight into legal practice, as well as allowing me to build the skills that I will use as a graduate lawyer. The research itself, while challenging at times, was intriguing. Topics spanned an extensive range that included the regulation of dangerous drugs, mandatory reporting requirements for child abuse, and negligence cases concerning mental health.

In addition to these exercises, I assisted in writing an article for The Australian Journal of Pharmacy. I was also able to attend mediations, where I observed the negotiation process and final resolution of several cases. The incredible diversity of such cases – and those that I encountered in the context of inquests, research, trials and hearings – ensured that each day was stimulating and distinct. These features were due not only to the extensive array of clients represented by Meridian (including hospitals, corporations, doctors, pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians, chiropractors and government contractors) but the complicated and novel legal questions that arise in the field.

Any intimidation at the challenge of such work was offset by the culture I experienced at Meridian. It very soon became apparent that the people around me were friendly, funny and wonderfully approachable. Help was unreserved and immediate (and often followed up with an amiable chat). Throughout my clerkship, the firm combined a focused and hard-working nature with unfailing warmth and a collegial atmosphere. I received direction, patience and trust that surpassed all expectation – it was this beyond all else that contributed in making the clerkship into the highlight of my year.

Ultimately the broad range of proceedings, the variety of cases, the complexity of the law, the guidance I received and particularly the culture of the firm combined to form the incredible experience I had at Meridian. It was wonderful to be so engaged in a fascinating area of the legal system, and to have such a diverse array of it presented to me in four short weeks. In addition to granting me greater understanding and allowing me to build the skills necessary for legal practice, it has made me far more enthusiastic as to what the future in practice may hold. I am extremely grateful for the introduction the clerkship gave me and the immense benefits it afforded me, which will continue to influence me in my pathway to practising law.

Written by: Tiana Moutafis
November Clerk at Meridian Lawyers, Melbourne

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