A flying start for 2017 law graduate

When Phoebe Zhang first moved to Australia at 12-years-old, she never thought she would be using her Chinese heritage to supplement her law studies and future career.

Now 23, Phoebe is graduating with a Bachelor of Laws/ Bachelor of Business from Western Sydney University.

"I always knew I wanted to study law. A family friend used to share stories with me about what she does on a daily basis as a legal practitioner. I remember finding our conversations so interesting and I think that's what inspired me to get into the legal sector," Phoebe says.

Five years down the track, Phoebe says it is still the best decision she has ever made.

"In my final year of study, I was asked by my lecturer to be a Mandarin translator and usher around a delegation of 19 Chinese judges visiting from Guizhou Higher People's Court," Phoebe says.

During their visit to Australia in November, Phoebe assisted the delegation of judges, guiding them on a tour of Parliament house and translating for them at corporate seminars.

The experience helped Phoebe to land her first graduate position as a paralegal in a city based mid-tier law firm working closely with clients of Chinese backgrounds.

"I'm so thankful to have had the chance to meet the delegation. It was a really practical lesson for me to understand the differences between the two legal systems governing the countries I have ties to," Phoebe says.

Phoebe Zhang 

Moving to Australia at a young age meant Phoebe had limited knowledge of the Chinese legal system, making her job as a translator a hard one.

"I didn't think about it at the time but I realised that being a translator for high profile judges could actually be a really great experience and I could use my ability to speak Mandarin to reach more people," she says.

Phoebe hopes to use her Chinese heritage to reach out and help more people in need of legal services.

During her time studying at Western Sydney University, Phoebe also helped with peer assisted study sessions for students which has helped shape her people skills and has made her job ready.

"My advice for students would be to enjoy your time while you're at university; the teachers are always there to help through the learning experience. I am very grateful that my teachers have provided me with unlimited support throughout my study journey, making my career in the legal sector possible."

After graduation, Phoebe will begin her practical legal training from the College of Law to become a practicing solicitor.


11 April 2017

Jessica Cortis, Media Unit