Paul, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to join Plexus as a legal secondee?
I’m originally from Melbourne. I did my degree at Monash, then I moved to Sydney and lived in Sydney for 5 years where I worked at 2 law firms. Then my partner and I decided to move to London.
After 5 years we were looking at coming back home to Melbourne. I started looking at the Australian market and what the market was like back home. I contacted a few recruiters but they all said ‘we can't do anything for you until you're on the ground so there's no point looking’.
As I was looking for jobs I came across a couple of adverts for Plexus. I'd never heard of Plexus I must say, and I didn't quite know anything about the secondment model either. I did a bit of research and had a look online and thought at that time ‘ok it's something interesting’ but still not really fully understanding, so I reached out for more info.
Millie from the Plexus Engage team got in touch. She talked me through exactly what the Plexus Engage secondment model was and how it worked. If you've never done secondments before it does sound a bit scary and I wasn’t 100% sure if it was right for me but it definitely piqued my curiosity.
I made my way back to Melbourne and emailed Millie letting her know I was back and the next day she called me with an engagement opportunity that suited my experience to a tee. And that’s how it started. It was a bit serendipitous the way it’s happened.
How have you found your first secondment?
The engagement I’m on at the moment is scheduled for 13 months full time and is not purely trademarks and marketing law which is where I’ve been specialising for the past eight years. There's advertising, IP, competitions and promotions as well as bits of commercial law, which is actually really fun and interesting.
The transition has been amazing. I love the move away from billable hours. I have actually caught myself at times finishing an activity and going to reach for a timesheet to input my entry … and I then remember I don’t have one, it’s such a nice feeling! I can spend as long as I need to on a matter, do further research if required and have the freedom to be able to do that, no one is scrutinising over my time saying ‘why did this take so long?’, or ‘why didn’t you bill more for this?’...its refreshing!
On top of that, my current client Bega have just been so lovely and welcoming! I’m always introduced as a team member, not a contractor. It’s very inclusive and I really feel like I’ve landed on my feet.
The whole experience has been so pleasant and so easy. Plexus has organised everything so I haven’t had to do anything. It’s been seamless. I’m really impressed, and I’m really happy that I touched base when I was in London and then again as soon as I got back to Melbourne.
What are you looking forward to tackling in this secondment that you couldn’t do in Private Practice?
One of the new areas for me is promotions and competitions law. It’s something that Plexus support Bega with through their Promotion Wizard platform. It’s so exciting to really sink my teeth into that whole area. It’s completely different to IP and advertising that I’ve done previously. But I’m finding it really nice to learn something new again.
I’ve also joined the Diversity and Inclusion Society at Bega. We’ve already had a meeting and I've suggested some new initiatives (that we introduced at my last firm that I was really proud of). Two of the ideas they’ve said seem like great ideas and will be put into motion. I’m quite excited about that too. It’s pretty cool. It’s been such a great experience becoming a part of the Bega community and so I’m looking forward to giving back.
What are the advantages of becoming a Plexus Engage legal secondee?
I think the whole allure of joining Plexus and why it’s been amazing from my perspective is that I feel like it’s always been a career goal of mine to transition from Private Practice into an in-house setting.
My background is in IP and trademarks law. It's so incredibly niche. Over the last 8 years I've spent specialising and honing my skills to such a point that I really needed an opportunity like Plexus to help me get in-house.
Plexus has been so instrumental in helping me jump from Private Practice to in-house because if I'd continued on that road, I would likely still be a trademark lawyer in a big firm where I would have kept honing and specialising. This really was a great opportunity to gain some new skills. For others who are finding themselves in the same position, doing this type of secondment model is a really amazing way to build experience.
The Plexus Engage model is a great opportunity for people in the same situation as me who just want to build their experience in an in-house space.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about becoming a secondee?
My recommendation: just do it.
It’s really enabled me to make that jump in-house. To be completely honest I don't know what would have happened without Plexus. It's just it's such a cut throat industry, everyone who is interviewing has got in-house experience so if you don't have that you're right down the bottom. I really, truly believe that Plexus was a facilitator to help me get in-house and I don’t know if I would have gotten there on my own.
I would totally recommend to anyone who's considering making the switch to secondments to just take the leap of faith and trust your instincts.
Paul has been engaged as a Plexus Lawyer since February 2022 and is currently on his first secondment.
Plexus Engage has helped Australia’s leading Legal functions adopt agile resourcing to fill capacity gaps and build more effective Legal functions for over ten years. Learn more about finding or becoming a Plexus lawyer today.