Interviewer: Grace Gibson, Legal Research Assistant – Grace is a fourth year Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/Bachelor of Arts student at Monash University and currently works as a Legal Research Assistant.
Julia, it has been almost a year since you joined the team here at Justitia. Tell me a bit about your background and career prior to starting in your current role.
My first job out of law school in 2015 was as a Judge’s Associate in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney. The Judge heard matters in the General Federal Law division. When I first started as an Associate, it was also the first time at the bench for the Judge. It was a unique and special experience, particularly given that I was able to attend and be a part of the swearing-in ceremony (the official judicial welcome to the bench for newly appointed judges).
When I left the court after 2.5 years working for the same Judge, I was fortunate enough to land a job in-house at the Australian Hotels Association NSW in the Legal and Industrial Affairs department. We provided advice to members on all aspects of employment and industrial relations.
I was after a ‘sea change’ and made the move to Melbourne in August 2018 where I initially worked at a boutique sports/employment law firm. In that role I gained experience advising employees, which has afforded me an insight into both sides of the employment law landscape. After that, I joined the Justitia team in July 2019!
Having previously worked for both employers and employees, and as a Judge’s Associate, you must have gained insights into the opposing standpoints of many matters you now deal with. In what ways have you utilised your experience in your role at Justitia?
Justitia has a diverse client base and we work with many wonderful businesses and employers. Being able to draw upon my experience working for both sides, I am able to provide clients with the big picture of a matter which can assist with achieving mutually beneficial outcomes for all involved. As a profession, we sometimes forget that dealing with people requires great insight and empathy to resolve a dispute or issue, particularly when dealing with sensitive matters such as workplace investigations.
What is the most interesting aspect of what you do?
The varied nature of the work is something that still fascinates me. Just when you think you have seen (or heard) it all, there will be a new matter that comes up in a client’s workplace that is unique. It’s always good having a challenge, and at Justitia, it is not uncommon to call a quick red-couch meeting where we have a particularly tricky problem to solve.
One of the aspects of employment law that I enjoy the most is the people focus; our practice area is centred on making workplaces and employees more harmonious within the parameters of the given legislation. I don’t believe there are many practice areas in the legal profession that requires us to strike a balance between the practical and legal considerations when advising clients.
What is one piece of advice you would give to an employer in today’s workforce?
There is no such thing as ‘winging-it’ when it comes to sorting out challenging employee issues. We often see clients waiting until the last minute to obtain advice which is often too late and results in significant financial burdens and other difficulties. Likewise, setting up the legally correct and appropriate contracts at the beginning of the employment relationship can save businesses valuable time and money.
Julia Eastoe is a lawyer at Justitia. To view Julia’s profile, click here.