Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?
I’m currently studying a combined Computer Science and Law degree at the University of New South Wales. In addition to my full-time studies I work as a paralegal in a leading global technology company and have been privileged to be involved with The Legal Forecast. From these positions I’ve gained invaluable experience within both the legal and tech industries and have developed my keen interest in the intersection of these two worlds, especially as the pace of innovation accelerates and as technology increasingly pervades all aspects of society, leading to novel and emerging associated legal issues.
What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?
I have always admired the way in which the legal industry acts as the gatekeeper of justice and the way in which law acts as the fabric that binds society together. In particular, I have a great respect for the way in which Judges and legal practitioners are held to a high standard of impartiality and independence, qualities which I believe are being frequently compromised in today’s rapidly changing world. I’m also driven by the challenge of law and the critical thinking and analytical skills which the legal industry requires. The focus on logic and fairness when problem-solving really resonates with me. I am also very driven by the advances in the legal-tech sphere and I feel passionate about being at the forefront of these developments in the future. Finally, I have been inspired by leading women in law who paved the way as role models for later generations and fought for social justice. I hope to one day be able to help people have the confidence and ability to combat injustice and stand up for their legal rights.
What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?
Authenticity, inclusion and growth.
What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?
Diversity is more than employee demographics. To me diversity means responding to the needs of society in a holistic way. In order to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry, I think we need to venture outside the bubble of the legal industry and improve access to justice. Access to justice means not only ensuring more people have greater opportunities to enter the legal industry and/or seek legal help, but it also means ensuring every person in society has a greater understanding of the legal system so they are aware of their rights and responsibilities and can feel less intimidated and overwhelmed when faced with a legal issue. Conversely, lawyers should develop a more holistic understanding of how other industries operate to truly develop diverse thinking. Ultimately, diversity and inclusion are essential to a thriving and sustainable legal industry which will not survive if it exists siloed from the world.
Nicole is a Paralegal at PayPal and a student at UNSW.