In our recent survey, many students indicated that they wish to know ways to find a job. An initiative started by a fellow Monash University student in 2018, Melbourne Legal Opportunities (MLO), is a platform through which students can search for jobs and keep track of legal positions available in Melbourne. Want to know more? You can find MLO on Facebook and Instagram. In the meantime, here's a little bit about MLO's founder - Zeina Ahalabi.
VISIT MELBOURNE LEGAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR MORE INFORMATION
1. What are you studying and what year are you planning to graduate?
I am studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/ Arts degree at
Monash University and planning to graduate at the end of 2021.
2. When did Melbourne Legal Opportunities launch?
Melbourne Legal Opportunities launched in September
2017. I simply created a Facebook page, sketched a basic logo from a
website and came up with the name immediately on the spot. I did not give the
‘creative’ side much thought initially and instead focused on putting out good
content for my audience.
3. What inspired you to create the Melbourne Legal Opportunities
I was in my first year of law school and felt inspired to get a start on my legal experience. In the first half of 2017, I was desperately searching for legal jobs at no avail. It took me hours of searching online and clicking through various career websites to try and find roles that suited a law student. I was surprised at how difficult it was and the amount of time that was consumed by simply browsing. It was at that point that I began questioning why there weren't any platforms dedicated to advertising legal opportunities for law students, sort of like a ‘one-stop-shop’. Some months later I landed a legal volunteering job, which was fantastic but I continued having trouble with finding a paid job. That was when I decided to launch my own page instead of waiting on someone else to do it. I knew I couldn’t be the only law student struggling, which turned out to be true given over 1000 students liked and followed MLO within the first week of its launch. Since then, we have developed a website and are now present on Instagram and LinkedIn providing a range of job opportunities to law students and graduates.
4. What is the vision for the future of MLO?
MLO is continually evolving and looking for new ways to provide value. Our vision, however, remains focused on providing the best legal opportunities for law students and grads. We are hoping to continue developing our network and establishing relationships with law firms and other legal organisations to advertise their opportunities on our platform. MLO is also exploring other avenues to provide value to our audience. For example, we recently held an online live Clerkship Q&A session where over 245 people tuned in. We want to hold similar events in the future and maybe even go Australia-wide further down the line.
5. What have you learnt about employability and legal experience as a Monash Law student and through running MLO?
It is important to understand that the employability process is tough and patience is key. It took me around a year to land my first paid legal job, and for others, it may take longer or perhaps less. There is a range of ways to develop your legal experience, such as through volunteering opportunities or getting started in an admin role at a law firm and eventually progressing to a legal position. Notwithstanding this, the most valuable thing you can do right now is ensuring that your resume/CV and cover letters are at their best so that no job application goes to waste. Legal jobs generally have a different standard compared to other industries when it comes to structuring an application, so it is important that you research how to properly present your cover letter and CV. Monash University offers a free resume review service and can provide you with some valuable feedback. I highly recommend checking them out if you find yourself struggling to make it through the application stage of some jobs.
6. What advice would you give to a first-year Monash law student who doesn't know where to start when it comes to developing employability during their time at Monash?
Many law students wait until their later years to begin exploring legal opportunities because they may be under the impression that they are not employable in their first one or two years. There are plenty of legal organisations that are willing to take on first years, especially not-for-profit volunteering agencies, and a simple google search can provide you with a variety of options. As a first-year, you should also consider participating in some law competitions which are usually held by the Monash LSS. Involving yourself in these competitions will not only impress a prospective employer but also help you develop a set of valuable skills that may be useful later on in a legal environment. A final tip to keep in mind is that the focus of any CV should be on your transferable skills, and do not underestimate any hospitality or retail experience you may have. All jobs are valuable if you can show the employer that the skills you have developed are transferrable into their environment (e.g. teamwork, communication, leadership etc.). Start as early on polishing and preparing your cover letter, resume and CV, as this may also be handy later on when it comes to clerkship season.
Ultimately, this is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s easy to fall into the habit of comparing yourself to other law students, but remember that everyone will simply progress at their own pace and time.