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Engage Lawyer Spotlight: Angelique Watkins

Lawyer angelique2

Angelique, 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 had started my legal career in private practice, mainly in defence litigation working for insurers. Then I ended up in the transport industry in aviation and shipping for about 8 years which I quite enjoyed. These days, I mainly work in the financial services space – where I have been for about 5 years now. I was abroad for quite a lot of my career, but when I came back to Australia in 2016 I decided to go in-house at a financial services company.

I was quite worried, I thought, ‘am I just not ambitious?’ because I’ve never had the desire to become a Partner in a big firm. The idea of that is just not what I want.

I saw how the Partners all interact at the places I’ve worked at and it's not for me. I didn’t want to get into that rut and follow that path. But I still want to do interesting work, and I wondered ‘if you don’t want to be a Partner, what do you do?’

I was also worried that if I went down the Partner path, I would be working all hours and get no quality time with my kids or much free time for doing the other things I love and that are important to me.

It seemed as though becoming an in-house secondee would be a good alternative to get some variety and avoid that normal Partnership rut.

How did you find yourself at Plexus?

I had first spoken with Plexus a few years ago when I was first thinking about a change. I suppose the main driver for me was that I wanted somewhere that would give me more variety. While I had liked where I worked, I had grown a bit tired of doing the same sorts of things day-in and day-out. So, I was really looking for something where I could make changes; learn new things, meet new people.

I had been googling a lot about legal contract working and short contract working, but I wasn’t ready to leave the structure of my previous role at that time.

The team kept in touch over the years. Rochelle was always nice to talk to, and Millie was lovely. Then earlier this year Millie approached me about this secondment at TAL and it was perfect timing. She went through all my different concerns and questions and she made me feel better about them.

It also seemed like Plexus had some good roles coming in too. I didn’t want to get stuck doing really boring stuff like discovery work. I wanted to continue doing interesting and sometimes complex work, just with the chance to meet new people and do new things.

Did you have any hesitations around the legal secondments model?

I guess I was more afraid of losing a normal salaried job with sick leave and normal holiday pay, and the banks like you better when you have a regular job. It took me so long to do it because I was worried about how I would go with finances in a less secure work environment.

But I discussed it all with my Plexus Engage Talent Manager, and she made me feel better about it.

As employees of Plexus, Plexus Engage Lawyers can accrue up to 4 weeks of annual leave per year. Plexus also covers all Lawyer’s CPD points from day one and administration, including insurance, tax and superannuation.

What do you like most about being a Plexus secondee?

One of the benefits of being a secondee is being able to learn how different companies do things.

In my previous role, they did some things really well and had gaps in other areas, as you’d expect in any organisation.

Through different secondments I’m able to pick up new things and make suggestions based on what has worked well previously, which I don’t think you would get to do if you stayed in the same job long term.

If you get to work with lots of different people you get exposure to many different ways of working, different approaches and best practice. You get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.

Also, I’ve really enjoyed meeting the other Plexus lawyers. One thing we all realised when we met, was that we all seemed to have a travel bug and craved variety. I guess it was nice to realise I wasn’t the only one who had itchy feet and wanted to try something new, because it seemed that many of the other Plexus lawyers were the same.

How have you found joining a team while working remotely?

The company where I’m on secondment has been really good, and really accommodating. I think they’re getting used to having all the technology so post-COVID everything is easier.

All calls go through Microsoft Teams, so I actually see them all the time and we regularly do video calls which is really nice. I attend their meetings so I know what everyone looks like, and I’m not the only one who’s working remotely.

The team generally pop into their office some days and work from home other days. They’ve all been really friendly and helpful - I quite like them.

The Legal team is mostly based in Sydney, with one lawyer in Brisbane [Angelique is Melbourne-based]. But they seem to be working quite well with it remotely. I think that’s also thanks to COVID because I don’t think people were as accommodating before, but now it's great.

What do you think of the future of legal secondments?

I think a lot of companies are coming around to hiring people on a short term contract basis or through companies like Plexus.

Businesses are seeing so many ups and downs and when things are up in the air they’re not sure how long they need people for. They might have an immediate need for help on a particular project or deal, but that need might drop away as things settle down.

It might be three months, it might be six months, but they are realising that going through that whole hiring process and then having excess staff afterwards, might be overkill.

But what’s great about Plexus is that you can jump in and solve problems for a defined period, and then your next secondment is always right around the corner.

Angelique has been engaged as a Plexus Lawyer since March 2021 and is currently on her 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.

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