Elisabeth Giles

Elisabeth Giles

Law Clerk, McVeagh Fleming
Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours)

Her studies have prepared her extremely well for her legal career, says Elisabeth Giles who is graduating from AUT this August and is already working at McVeagh Fleming.

“On my first day working at McVeagh Fleming as a summer clerk I was handed a file concerning a topic we had just covered in a criminal law workshop at AUT a couple weeks before. Without that workshop I wouldn’t have known where to start, but I managed to recall the relevant legislation and special exceptions, which impressed my supervising solicitor.

“This experience has really made me appreciate AUT's law lecturers and workshop leaders as they make sure that their teaching can be applied in the real world.”

Elisabeth says she has thoroughly enjoyed studying at AUT.

“I’ve made some wonderful friends and was given a high-quality and thorough education that is applicable to the real world. The lecturers were excellent teachers, accessible and happy to answer any queries. The workshops on contract, torts and criminal law in particular were invaluable. The amazing law librarian Melanie Lovich also runs useful workshops on how to use databases like LexisNexis and Westlaw, and software like Juris-M, which is so helpful for big research projects.”

The guidance to succeed
For Elisabeth, the academic staff made her time at AUT special.

“I’ve been able to write a dissertation under the supervision of the wonderful Dr Amy Benjamin, an experience that I really enjoyed. I’ve also worked for one of my favourite lecturers, Dr Cassandra Mudgway, as a research assistant for her research project on the International Criminal Court. I’ve also always found Mike French, the director of the undergraduate law programme, very helpful and easy to talk to.”

However, there was one person that made a particularly strong impression on her.

“I’ve had some wonderful lecturers and tutors, but I would honestly have to say that Paul Shenkin –who took my torts and criminal law workshops – stood out for me because of the way he helped prepare me for working in a law firm.

“At work I am often asked to research a topic, or summarise a case, for solicitors and they expect me to know what I’m talking about. I also need to be able to communicate effectively to my team, or a partner. In workshops, Paul would often drill down to the important details in the cases, ask you to explain or expand on your points, and emphasise the importance of knowing the facts. This helped me get a feel for how things work in a firm and this was great practice before I ended up doing it for real at work.”

Advice for other students
Never be afraid to ask for help, Elisabeth advises other students.

“If you don't understand something in your lectures, workshops or readings, ask for help. The lecturers and workshop leaders all want us to succeed. The fact that you can book in time to see them is also great, it’s not as easy to get that one-on-one time in a firm.”

Her other piece of advice is to make the most of university life.

“Get involved with the awesome student culture that AUT is known for, by entering into competitions or even just by organising a study group. It can feel like you're at law school forever, but it goes by quickly, so enjoy it.”

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