How an uncertain teen discovered law as a career

At 15, while studying at Lalor Secondary College in Melbourne, Sarah Pervaiz didn’t know what she wanted to do as a career.

She considered law ​as a potential option, and after attending a GOALS program through ABCN where she was inspired by her mentor Samantha Lewis, who was working at King & Wood Mallesons at the time, Sarah discovered her underlying passion for law.

Sarah Pervaiz

Post-program, Samantha continued to mentor Sarah, who went on to study law at La Trobe University and has built a successful career, now working as a Corporate Counsel at Sigma Healthcare. The ABCN alumna has been selected as a finalist for a Rising Star Award at the Australian Law Awards to be announced on 12 August.

‘ABCN gave me access to insights as to what it is like to work in legal practice, which led me to tailor my studies throughout my VCE to ensure I completed subjects that I both enjoyed and was good at,’ Sarah recalls.

‘I don’t think I fully appreciated the impact of being shown the idea of a career in law until I got to university. This was when I realised that many people who go into law have a family member or a close friend who has completed that journey themselves.’

With a mother in health care and her father an engineer, keeping contact with her mentor provided Sarah integral support to succeed in pursuing her passion.

‘In my family, I’m the first one to go into law, so staying in touch with my ABCN mentor and being able to ask questions and rely on ​them for advice filled that gap.’

Sarah is one of 69 former mentees who took part in new research into the long-term impact of ABCN programs.

The study, Careers in the Making, found ABCN alumni gained ‘gateway’ work-readiness skills and developed future-focused capabilities and thinking. Nearly 70% of alumni named the mentor connection as a most memorable aspect of participating in programs.

 Click to read the full report.

Sarah’s remains in touch with Samantha, and her positive mentor experience with ABCN has inspired her to mentor others at university​, in her personal life, and ​maintain mentoring relationships with colleagues at work.

‘Mentorship is a huge part of my life and has been for a few years​ now,’ Sarah says.

‘Currently I’m mentoring people not just in law, but personal development spaces as well. Because I had such a great experience with my ABCN mentor, I wanted to give back wherever I could​’.​

‘Before my first ABCN program, I saw the mentorship space as like a teacher-student kind of thing, but the mentorship space is very different.’

‘It’s much more symbiotic. It’s a two-way street, and you gain so much as a mentor​.’

Before taking part in GOALS, Sarah describes herself as lacking motivation, and would sometimes struggle to get out of bed in the morning.

‘It felt quite daunting at first, but as soon as I started going into the city and being exposed to different business environment​s and rooms of eager young lawyers full of passion​, it gave me a physical manifestation of what I could aspire to​’.​

‘When you’re that young you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what the working world is like. To be there in the flesh and see how it all worked really helped me conceptualise it​.’

Sarah is also the company secretary of a small subsidiary company as part of her law job and says being introduced to leadership training through the GOALS program ‘really contributed to developing a professional mindset’.

‘I have learnt that the longer you work on something, the longer you’re learning about something, and with more practice you only get better over time,’ she says.

‘Having been introduced to these concepts so early in my professional career was really pivotal for me and I haven’t fully appreciated that until now​.’

ABCN congratulates Sarah on her career and her nomination in the Australian Law Awards.

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