Karl Shami completed the RMIT JD in 2016. We had a chat with him to see what he’s been up to since.
When did you graduate, what have you been up to since then?
I graduated at the end of 2016, and completed a clerkship with the Maurice Blackburn at the end of 2016. I spent the next year working as a paralegal and volunteering at community legal centres. In March 2018 I started a traineeship at Maurice Blackburn, which I am currently undertaking, currently rotating through the Social Justice Practice.
Tell us a little bit about your career journey and why you decided to pursue a law degree?
I always had an interest in social justice. I finished my undergraduate in journalism but realised that it wasn’t the right fit for me. I had always considered studying law. I spoke to some people who had studied law who convinced me that with the current market it would be a really bad idea. I’m a stubborn person though, so I decided that studying law would be the best way for me to achieve my ambitions.
How well did the RMIT JD prepare you for your career?
The RMIT JD is an excellent course to get a taste of real world experience and practical training. I had at least one practical based assessment each semester. Speaking to my colleagues who came from other universities this was a unique experience. There was a focus on what the practical experience of being a lawyer was like, and I really think this put me in a good place to enter the workforce.
What involvement did you have with CIJ while studying?
I took part in the CIJ’s New Zealand study tour in 2015. This was easily one of the highlights of my degree and I still talk about it to people now! I also spent six months volunteering at the Mental Health Legal Centre which is a great experience in itself.
Is there anything that surprised you about working in the legal sector?
There is a diversity of work available to you, and there is flexibility to get involved in what you’re actually passionate about. I’m very fortunate that I’m currently working in a practice area that aligns with my interests, but I’ve met plenty of people who pay the bills with their 9-5 work but do some really interesting things on the side – sitting on sports tribunals, drafting policy documents, board members at various charities.
If you had one piece of advice to give law/social work students, what would that be?
Get involved with the opportunities that RMIT and being a student allows you. Sign up for programs and trips, go along to talks, email people for a coffee to pick their brain. As a student you really have the time and ability to take risks and explore options. If you’re at RMIT you’re at a real advantage to see some of the really interesting work you can do that isn’t just private practice in a commercial firm.