Solicitor, Wells & Co
Bachelor of Laws
Growing up, she didn’t know many lawyers who looked like her, says Claudette Herman who is now a solicitor at Wells & Co.
“I wanted to be on a platform where I could encourage more Pacific women to become lawyers, doctors, engineers and the like. This drive, coupled with my love of the English language, problem solving and desire to break glass ceilings, steered me in the direction to become a lawyer. I initially did an arts degree at another university but the drive for law was always there, so I decided to return to study at AUT.”
It’s a decision Claudette hasn’t regretted, and she was particularly impressed by the people she encountered while studying at AUT.
“I loved how friendly everyone was at AUT. You often hear horror stories about how competitive law school is but that wasn’t the case for me. The academic staff were so accessible and always willing to help, and many of my classmates were on a very similar journey to me; having finished one degree and working, then coming back to uni. That made my journey at AUT so much easier.
“One lecturer who continues to inspire me today is Associate Professor Khylee Quince. I remember sitting in many of her lectures and feeling so empowered. She is never afraid to share her thoughts on issues like colonialism, racial stereotypes, gender bias and oppression of minorities. Seeing a woman in her position speak on these topics inspired me to speak out on these topics myself, without hesitation or fear of ruffling any feathers.”
Making a difference
As a solicitor, she loves the variety her role offers, Claudette says.
“I’m involved in commercial, family and contract law, conveyancing, wills, estates and litigation. I enjoy the variety of work and the challenges that come with interpreting the law. I’ve also been blessed to be in a firm that appreciates how important it is to have a life outside the law. Finding the space to leave work at work, and shift your mind and wellbeing into other avenues of your life makes me really enjoy my job.”
Having the time to work in the community is one thing she particularly enjoys about being a lawyer.
“I run the legal clinics at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Glen Innes every other month. Connecting with the community, and providing advice to the people who really need it and possibly can’t afford a lawyer is one of the reasons why I wanted to study law in the first place. Working hard during law school and now being on a platform of privilege and being able to help others is one of my greatest achievements so far.”
Advice for other students
Claudette, who graduated with her Bachelor of Laws in 2019 and is proud of making the dean’s list for the top student in youth justice, has some great advice for other students.
“There are so many ups and downs that come with university. Try your best to never compare yourself to anyone else. Focus on your own journey. Choose courses that spark your passion, ask questions – even if you’re afraid it might make you look silly – and whether you’re doing it for your family or yourself, always show up.”
Choose your degree wisely, she adds.
“Longevity in any chosen career is about loving what you do; not so much about a career that will give you the most money, so choose wisely and enjoy the ride.”