On OpenDoors this week, we had a chat with Vanisha, our 8th guest on The Entrance Series. Vanisha is currently a Paralegal at Ravenscroft & Schmierer — an international Hong Kong law firm with a history of over 36 years. Having worked in education, marketing, and law, Vanisha shares with us her journey of self-discovery and ultimately deciding to pursue a career in law.
OpenDoors: Could you give us a snippet of your background?
Vanisha: Hong Kong is home to me, I was born and brought up here. Four years ago, I made the move to Australia to pursue my law degree and since then I have been admitted as a lawyer there. Right now, I’m working as a paralegal while also working towards getting qualified as a lawyer here.
At my current job, I’m working on something new almost every day, from litigation work — drafting pleadings with the assistance of associates and partners, attending court hearings and taking attendance notes, to preparing trademark applications, to corresponding with our clients, perusing documents and drafting demand letters to assist in recovering money, to even accounting work.
OpenDoors: One of the things that really stood out to us is how diverse your working experience is prior to your career in law. Tell us more about that!
Vanisha: I have been working since I turned 16, and my very first job was working as a teaching assistant at YMCA. In about 3 years, I was promoted to a teacher and I continued to work there every summer until 2019. Looking back I have been teaching for a total of 9 years, in both part-time and full-time capacities! I have always been passionate about teaching so that was a memorable phase for me.
I’ve also tried out a range of other jobs including working as a foreign language interviewer at a marketing firm while I was doing my diploma. It was an interesting experience as I got to speak directly to customers and report their responses regarding products they had invested in. Of course, I’ve also done some legal internships as that is the career that I’ve decided to pursue, which was very exciting because I got to experience working with solicitors, barristers and judges. For one winter break where I didn’t do a legal internship, an opportunity came up to work at a pre-owned luxury shopping platform and that was a great opportunity, as I got to network with a lot of people through different charity events and learned more about the concept of sustainability. All these were experiences that I value and appreciate because they helped me figure out what I was keen on doing, especially for the long term.
OpenDoors: What’s the learning curve like for a paralegal?
Vanisha: The work that I’m doing is very practical, allowing me to apply the theoretical knowledge learned in university to my daily work. I’m coming home every day with new knowledge on the procedures involved within civil, criminal and family law proceedings. I would say now that I’m working as a paralegal, there is definitely a lot of knowledge and insight I’m acquiring by being involved in different cases that we don’t get exposed to in law school. It equips us with the understanding and skills required to practise in these areas.
OpenDoors: What would you say are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your job?
Vanisha: There is a strong feeling of reward and fulfilment seeing our clients obtain the outcome that they want through our expertise, especially when they are in a position of difficulty or even suffering.
Challenge-wise, it is crucial not only for myself but for everyone at the firm to make sure we are on top of our game. I’m very lucky to be part of a team that is empathetic and understanding, but the reality is not only are we required to meet the expectations of our clients but also of our firm, and the expectations we set for ourselves. For example, if more than one partner is asking me to get certain things done, I do try to manage in a way where I can complete the tasks on the same day rather than leaving it for the following day where new tasks arise, which is relatable to many of us.
OpenDoors: What are some key characteristics or traits required in order to be successful?
Vanisha: Legal skills and expertise would be essential in terms of job execution. Apart from that, a high level of communication and conversational skills are crucial not only for effective interactions with stakeholders, but also to build trust and demonstrate professionalism. Although, I’d say it’s most important to find a balance between work and life to maintain our focus, especially when work gets overwhelming, in order to deliver and achieve the desired outcomes.
Get in touch with Vanisha:
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