Interview with Jessica Spencer on being admitted as a lawyer during COVID-19

Jessica Spencer Signing Document

Jessica Spencer was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Queensland, amidst the unforeseen circumstances surrounding COVID-19, which affected individuals, businesses, agencies and courts in unprecedented ways.

An admission ceremony typically involves a packed courtroom of lawyers-to-be, their accompanying barristers who ‘move their admission’, and family members, amidst an atmosphere of grandeur, followed by a celebration of the newly admitted lawyer’s choosing.

With clinical social distancing measures in place, Jessica’s admission was not accompanied by such ceremonial gatherings, but took place by way of distinct and sparse steps to receive her Certificate of Admission.  The initial stage of the process was for Jessica to be admitted “conditionally on the papers”, a measure put in place by amendment to ensure duly qualified lawyers could commence practising without delay.  Secondly, instead of taking an oath or affirmation in the presence of several witnesses in court, Jessica signed an Affirmation of Office and Allegiance in the presence of a lawyer in their office (pictured above, with Director Aaron Smith). Finally, by way of appointment, Jessica was invited to attend the Supreme Court to sign the roll of practitioners, without the accompanying sounds of shuffling chairs, sporadic coughs and quiet remarks that are typical of a court room full of supporters.

Here, Jessica is interviewed about her experience of being admitted as a lawyer during COVID-19.

1 – Were you concerned at any stage that COVID-19 would have held up your admission ceremony?

Yes absolutely! It was postponed, having originally being planned for 6 April 2020, and when I found out I was very disappointed. It was 3 weeks later that they announced the amendments to the admission rules and that conditional admission would take place on 20 April 2020. This was a relief.

2 – What’s something positive about the admission process you went through?

I was able to take my husband with me to witness me signing the roll.

3 – Did any of your family or loved ones want to attend the ceremony and were not able to? 

Yes.  It was sad that my parents could not witness my admission by way of the ceremony or otherwise.

4 – How did you feel about finally getting to be admitted after the years of study and work?

It’s such a relief! Studying has been a large part of my life for the last 6 years and it was a sacrifice for not only myself but for my family so it’s great not having to spend my weekends or nights doing assignments or studying for exams.

5 – What advice would you give to law students completing their degree and/or Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (GDLP) and going into legal practice?

I strongly recommend, if possible, that while studying law or your GDLP, you obtain a part-time position in a law firm as this will give you a broader view of how to apply the knowledge from your degree to the practical side of practicing law.

Having graduated after many years of working at HBH lawyers while completing her studies, Jessica is now a lawyer in the Commercial and Property Team, working directly with Director Aaron Smith in the Commercial and Property team.

Jessica has been building a strong foundation in conveyancing, business and commercial law since she commenced working in the legal industry in 2003, and is no doubt one of the first lawyers admitted into practice through the amended admissions process in the Supreme Court of Queensland.

For more information regarding Jessica’s work, please click here.

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