Life at Allens

Meet our new Allens Confidential hosts

With around 50,000 downloads and more than 40 episodes under its belt, the Allens Confidential podcast has welcomed its fourth hosts, Cat Thomas and Sam Guzman.

Conceived by two fellow Allens graduates in 2018, the podcast is designed to give prospective clerks and graduates a window into life at Allens and showcase what differentiates our firm.

We caught up with Cat and Sam to find out more about their journeys to Allens and what drew them to hosting Allens Confidential.

Cat Thomas

What made you decide to start your legal career at Allens?

I knew that I wanted to work in corporate law, I knew that I wanted to be a really good lawyer and I also knew that I wanted to enjoy the company of the people I worked with (after all, we do end up spending a lot of time together). Out the gate Allens ticks box one and box two. Listening to Allens Confidential (shameless plug) really helped me get a sense of who I'd be working with at Allens, and I thoroughly enjoyed the interviews I had with the firm – they were with lawyers who I really liked, and who I really wanted to be like. As long as Allens also wanted me, I was sold (and fortunately they did!).

What do you wish someone had told you when you first started as a clerk/graduate?

I wish someone told me that I didn't need to be a different person at work to who I am outside of work. Sam will tell anyone who will listen about how serious I was during the clerkship. Of course, the work that we do is important and it is serious but that doesn't mean that there is no space for levity and lightness - in fact, I think it makes it all the more important. There is absolutely space for me to bring myself, along with all the silliness and goofiness that entails, into the office.        

What was your biggest challenge as a clerk/graduate and what did you learn from that experience?

My biggest challenge was not understanding or feeling like I knew everything when I first started – and I've learned that this is just something you have to get used to. There is so much to know, and when you don't know it (no one expects you to) you feel like you're the only one that doesn't. What I've learned is that it is absolutely okay not to understand when you start out, and that people genuinely want to help you so ask questions, ask a lot of them. 

What do you like the most about working at Allens?

I just genuinely like coming into work, and I think being able to say that is a huge privilege. There are so many things that feed into that – the type of work I do interests me, the people I work with genuinely want to help me learn and develop, and I get to work with some of my best mates.

Sam Guzman

What was your journey to Allens?

In my first year of law school, I attended a UTS client interview grand final held at the Allens Sydney office because I was keen on getting involved with competitions. At first, I remember feeling sick in the stomach from how quickly the lifts moved (and because I had a slight fear of heights). But as the evening progressed, I fell in love with the office view and left feeling inspired by the Allens partner who was sitting on the judging panel. From that moment on, I was intrigued by the prospects of pursuing a career in corporate law. Three years down the track, I applied for a summer clerkship and the stars aligned for me…and now here I am!

What are your top tips for future clerks to secure an opportunity at Allens?

Two things that come to mind are (1) be yourself and (2) do your research. Think about your different experiences, what you've learnt, and how the skills you've developed might be relevant to a career in commercial law at Allens. I'd definitely encourage candidates to lean in on non-legal experiences as well (I myself had no legal experience at the time I was applying), be it jobs in retail or hospitality, or interests like music or sports. Of course, it's also important to be on top of the reasons why exactly you're applying for a role at Allens.

What was your biggest challenge as a clerk/graduate and what did you learn from that experience?

Like many others, I initially struggled with imposter syndrome, particularly because I had no legal experience coming into the clerkship. I quickly learned that having a positive attitude and a genuine willingness to learn will get you a long way. You're not expected to be an expert in any particular area of law as a summer clerk or graduate. There are so many learning opportunities on offer - both informal and formal - to upskill you and train you to become a technically excellent corporate lawyer.

What do you like most about working at Allens?

I love how holistic my experience has been. The non-siloed approach and year-long graduate rotations have been so valuable, particularly as a junior, because I get an incredibly diverse range of experiences and a good understanding of the different type of work each team does. There are also different pro bono opportunities and committees to get involved with. Above everything, I love the people I work with.


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