Lauren Absalom lives by the mantra ‘you only get out what you put in’. Since her days studying a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Notre Dame’s Sydney Campus, she has taken advantage of every opportunity and now – just a little more than a handful of years since her graduation – Lauren has been elected to the Council of the Law Society of NSW.
Made up of 21 elected members plus the President, the Council is the governing body for lawyers in NSW and the organisation legal professionals turn to for guidance, position on policy and to handle issues of conduct.
“It was a really nice surprise to get elected,” says Lauren. “To be able to contribute to the profession in such an important way so early in my career is really exciting. It wasn’t something I thought I’d be able to do had you asked me at graduation, but it didn’t take me too long to realise that I wanted to get involved in the Law Society, and in particular the regulation of lawyers and how the legal profession responds to issues in the community.”
While it’s often professionals who have been in practice for a number of years that are elected to Council, this year four young lawyers have been appointed as councillors, bringing the total to five – Lauren feels proud to be one of those.
“It is a very impressive achievement for anyone to be elected to the Council. More so, for a young practitioner,” says Professor Gerard Ryan, one of the first people Lauren told when she was elected to the Council. “It is exciting for us in Notre Dame’s School of Law, as Lauren is Notre Dame’s first graduate to be elected to the Council.”
For Lauren – currently working as an Associate in Wills and Estates at Rydge Evans Lawyers – being part of the Council opens up a whole new aspect of the profession and offers her the opportunity to make a difference.
“Being on Council sits outside your work as practitioner, so it has to be something you’re happy to do with your spare time. For me, the driver is my belief in offering service to the profession that serves you. If you want the profession to look after you, you need to put back into it,” she explains. Lauren has further embodied this belief by taking up roles as the Secretary and NSW Young Lawyers Regional Delegate of her regional law society, as well as the position of Vice Chair of the NSW Young Lawyers Civil Litigation committee.
“I think that the perception of lawyers in the community is sometimes unfair; there is a space for lawyers to invest some time in building our profession and how we project that into our communities. I want to contribute to helping make the idea of using legal services less daunting and less overwhelming for people. It should be something that people are happy to do.” Lauren is also particularly interested in contributing to the investigation of the increasing attrition of lawyers.
Lauren knew she wanted to be a lawyer when she was 14 years old and graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Law / Bachelor of Arts. “In my Arts degree, I majored in Politics & International Relations, as well as Behavioural Science, which is very different to law but has actually helped me in my career and how I interact with clients and handle disputes,” says Lauren.
Looking back on her university experience, she recalls getting involved with the student association, student law society and Vice Chancellor’s National Student Board in its inaugural year. “The idea of service has been a big part of how I approach life in general, not just my career,” she says.
“I think I’m a better practitioner for having studied at Notre Dame,” Lauren adds. “The way we learnt about networking, collaborating and how to approach problems was really beneficial. There was a really practical approach in many classes and I still get some of my notes out today!”
“My favourite thing about the university however, is the community feel. I met my fiancé in the law school, and met one of my best friends at Notre Dame as well – and she wasn’t even in the same faculty, she studied Education. That just doesn’t happen at other unis.”
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