New Colombo Plan alumni forge promising careers in law and finance in a rapidly changing region

11 September 2018

A strong supporter of the New Colombo Plan, global law firm King & Wood Mallesons co-hosted the first NCP Industry Symposium — convened by China Practice Consultant and NCP Business Champion, David Olsson, and attended by the then Foreign Minister Julie Bishop — to explore ways for business, government and universities to prepare more legal graduates for international successful careers.

King & Wood Malleson’s (KWM) global chief executive Sue Kench affirmed the company ‘is thrilled to support’ the NCP, and spoke of the shared vision to, ‘build a national cohort of Asia-literate future leaders’.

NCP alumni spoke of the unique benefits provided by the NCP to their professional outlooks.

Rose Vassel was an NCP Scholar to Taiwan in 2016. She graduated from the University of New South Wales with a B. Law/B. International Studies and has secured a number of clerkships. Rose said “the NCP allowed me to embrace a career in law and my future now holds an associateship with the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and a graduate role with King & Wood Mallesons.”

Emma Moore was an NCP Scholar to Hong Kong in 2014. Emma graduated from Monash University with a B. Commerce/B. Law (Hons)/Dip. Languages and later won a Chinese government scholarship at Peking University to further her Mandarin proficiency. Emma reflected that, “studying international law at Hong Kong University and working on arbitration matters at Herbert Smith Freehills influenced my honours thesis, sharpened my interest in international arbitration work and led me to a clerkship with Allens’ Disputes and Investigations team — where I now work”.

Most alumni at the event point to the NCP opening a world of opportunities to young Australians as they pursue their careers in law, finance, the judiciary, and government:

“My studies and time at QBE Insurance Hong Kong were invaluable to securing a graduate position at Allens.”

Joshua Sheppard, 2016 Fellow Hong Kong

“I return to Australia with a job offer, Chinese language, a network of friends, and a greater understanding of Australia’s place in the region.”

Piero Craney, 2016 Scholar Taiwan

“Study at the University of Tokyo and internships with top-tier law firms and Mitsui crystallised my ambition to practice in the bilateral legal services market.”

Alexander McLeish, 2016 Scholar Japan

“I secured my current job because my employer said my NCP experience showed I am open minded, culturally aware and up for a challenge — exactly what they were looking for.”

Emily Forsyth, 2015 Scholar to Vanuatu

The event underlined the achievements of the NCP in its first five years, while pointing the way for greater collaboration to equip Australian graduates with the legal skills and capabilities combined with the competitive edge of an NCP experience in the region. The demand from Australian law undergraduates for NCP places is strong, with 24 percent of the scholars from 2014 to 2018 having studied law related topics.

Olsson noted the challenges facing law firms and universities, “with the fastest-growing region on our doorstep, and shifts in geopolitical power, it is increasingly important for international lawyers to understand non-western perspectives. As a profession, this is the beginning of a conversation about how the legal fraternity can engage with the emerging economic powerhouses in our region.”

KWM has hosted 19 NCP scholars and continues to offer internships across China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. As a Business Champion, Olsson is convinced of the value to businesses of being actively involved in the NCP, “the evidence is clear. The New Colombo Plan opens up students’ horizons, creates cultural awareness, lends new perspectives, and nurtures their critical reasoning. Alumni develop skills, networks and friendships vital to their careers and the nation.”

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Alumni Joshua Sheppard during the facilitated discussion.
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Global Chief Executive King & Wood Mallesons, Sue Kench, speaking on the company’s presence in Asia.
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NCP Business Champion and KWM China Practice Consultant, David Olsson.
Last Updated: 18 September 2018