Women In Law: An Interview With International-Law-Passionate Angela Liu

Almost 100 years on, women are making history in the legal profession. For the first time, women make up the majority of practising solicitors. According to the Financial Times, however, the legal profession must still break its glass ceiling. Women are welcomed to this profession as pupils and trainees and are given the opportunity to progress, but only so far. 

Interested about the challenges that young women have to face when trying to succeed in the legal industry, I decided to interview Angela Liu, a 24-year old law professional currently clerking at the Austrian Higher Regional Court and working as trainee at an International Business law firm in Vienna.

Natalia: Angela, can you please share a bit with us about what you do?

Angela:  I am currently in my training years on becoming a lawyer with an international outlook. Basically, the training consists of completing a legal clerkship at various Austrian courts followed by a position as an associate at a law firm. I wanted to start early and get a better insight of the work at a law firm and chose to work in shifts, meaning clerking at court during the day and working at a law firm in the evening. My task is to understand the issue, distill the legally relevant pieces of information and then communicate the problem and solution to the client in plain words. 

N: Could you please describe the challenges you have faced so far trying to suceed in this industry?

A: One challenge that I have been and will be facing is when it comes to meeting deadlines. Every one has to deal with them. We once had to meet a regulatory deadline for coming into force of a new law. Being aware of the non pleasant consequences of non-compliance we started right away with reviewing and adjusting the contracts. The crucial point is that we set up an internal deadline for ourselves to use it as a cushion in case for check backs with other departments. We successfully managed to be compliant by the time the new legislation came into force. 

Deadlines are not bugging, in fact, they are necessary. They help you prioritise, manage and use time effectively.  
N: What has been a moment you have felt proud of yourself? 

A: July 13, 2018. I graduated from University. What makes graduating at that moment so special is the fact that I went through a pretty rough last semester with almost no social interactions besides learning, working and sleeping. Mondays til Fridays were reserved for work and studying, weekends for sleeping and workouts to release the mind. My daily routine, in fact, became a routine. With a solid time schedule and the perseverance to stick to it, I managed to pass three final exams, write my thesis besides working 25h a week. 

N: What hacks or tips would you give to someone who is seeking to pursue a career similar to yours? What about landing a job in this industry?

A: On my first internship back then I was surprised by the fact that essential, even mundane, but crucial knowledge is totally missed out at university. I had to take care for the appointment with a client and at some point wished that there had been a lecture at university on "How to deal with clients 101". To be fair, what they don't teach you at university is because they can't teach you. 

So, is it up to you to get yourself out there as early as possible to figure it out. 

N: What role do you think clothing and your overall appeareance have played on your career?

A: The way you dress is important on two notes: 

Firstly, the clothes you wear are a medium of expression. How do you want others to think about your personality, who you are?  
Secondly, the way you dress creates a lasting first impression and first impressions matter in the absence of further information. What non-verbal message do you want to send to your peers, the outside world?
Personally, I can neither confirm nor deny whether the way I dress has had an impact on my career so far, but the clothes I wear have to meet those two requirements: they have to be appropriate for work and I have to feel comfortable in them. 

N: Finally, what do you feel comfortable wearing to work?
A:  Generally, I can choose between two categories: business formal and business casual.  Business formal looks conservative, meaning a knee-length dress in a neutral colour (regularly black or dark grey). Business casual is more creative, for example a coloured shirt and skirt, or a muted patterned blouse and trousers.  

Thanks so much to Angela for a great interview and a look into her life as a telecommunications engineer and researcher. Are you also woman in the legal field?  Has your experience been different or simmilar to Angela's? Do you have any questions for women in the legal industry?

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