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Belinda Sigismundi, principal lawyer.
BA, LLB at Melbourne University, [graduating in] 2003.
I was always very academic through my school years and was privileged to have some exceptional teachers in years 11 and 12, who helped push me to my limits and achieve the score I needed to do law. There was no other option for me. I knew from a young age that I wanted to dedicate my life to the law.
I developed a real passion for intellectual property law at university. Once I graduated, my main focus was to build up my practical experience in the IP sphere. I managed to secure articles of clerkship at a boutique trade mark and patent attorney firm and was involved in some really interesting patent and trade mark infringement cases. [However] after 10 months, I wanted to explore other opportunities to further my career. So I applied for a role at Macpherson Kelley Lawyers. Despite the advertisement wanting a candidate with at least two years post admission experience, I still had a good feeling about the company, so gave it a shot and the rest is history! Submitting my CV to Macpherson Kelley turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I have been at Macpherson Kelley Lawyers for 13 years. While my role has changed substantially over this time, my drive and passion and love for the work I do continues.
I was really interested in the intellectual property subjects offered during my law degree and secured some volunteer research work for a prominent IP barrister. He inspired me to learn as much as I could and make some valuable contacts in the IP space.
IP really did it for me and made my choice a simple one.
The interview process was fairly informal and relaxed, which allowed me to be myself. I had an initial interview with the HR manager and a second interview with two principals.
My knowledge of IP law was certainly tested, particularly in the second interview. I was also asked why Macpherson Kelley appealed to me and what attributes I could bring to the firm.
Do what you love, and you will have a long, happy and fulfilling career. Don’t accept a job or get cornered into an area of law that doesn’t interest you, because you won’t stay in the legal profession for very long. Get as much work experience as you can in the area of law you enjoy. There are many barristers, for instance, that would welcome some voluntary research, so put your hand up and get your hands dirty. It is never too early to start growing your professional and personal networks. Good contacts can open up doors for you later in life, so nurture those relationships and continue building your networks throughout your career.
Macpherson Kelley is a national commercial law firm with offices in Melbourne, Dandenong, Sydney and Brisbane. We understand industry. Our focus is on providing specialised legal advice in the accountants, motor dealers, manufacturing, foreign owned subsidiaries, property development, insolvency and technology industries. We pride ourselves on being actively involved in their industries meaning we are well attuned to the issues clients are faced with and how best to resolve them.
I am a principal lawyer in the Intellectual Property and Trade team. I work across our Dandenong and Melbourne offices.
The beauty about practising in IP law is that every day is so different. This is what yesterday looked like:
A lawyer who is driven and passionate about the area of law they practice in will succeed. Successful lawyers are also team players and have solid professional and personal networks. Good management skills are also essential as a lawyer progresses in their career.
A law degree can lead to a realm of different opportunities and career prospects including private practice, in-house counsel roles, a career at the Bar as well as advisory, consultancy and management roles.
They certainly could. They would need a law degree, but I have worked with many colleagues who have had a different career before working in the law. For instance, engineering, local government and business management.
I work for so many different clients, from book publishers and manufacturers of cosmetics and food products, to brand developers and designers.
I love going out to visit clients and tour their premises. Learning about and truly understanding a client’s business makes you more than just their lawyer – you become their trusted advisor. Helping a client grow their own business and maximise the value in their intellectual property is the best and most rewarding part of my job.
Yes, I need to manage clients’ expectations, ensure my team does the same, continue to build and strengthen client relationships, make sure my team has enough work to meet their personal budgets, and work tirelessly to grow the practice and build our profile within and outside the firm.
After a hectic week, the weekend is a time for me to de-stress and spend quality time with my family. So I try to avoid working on weekends if and when I can.
Sometimes. Managing stress levels is an important part of my job. If things go wrong, the focus should be on fixing the problem and moving forward, rather than stressing about things you have no control over.