WLA ACT recently caught up for a coffee with Katherine Yang, Solicitor at King & Wood Mallesons as part of our #WomenLawyersoftheACT series to chat about how her early work in the public sector has placed her in good stead to excel in the private.
Where do you currently work and what is your position
I work as a solicitor with the Corporate Mergers & Acquisitions team specialising in advising clients on Australia’s foreign investment regime.
What do you find most enjoyable about what you do?
Unlike other areas of M&A, where you are only doing due diligence on a very small part of a bigger matter, I am in a niche little team which allows me to build close connections directly with the clients. While initially it was scary being called by clients asking specifically for me, I find I’m now able to give advice off the cuff! Another benefit of my area is that it only has one piece of legislation, allowing me to master a specific area of law rather than knowing a small amount of several areas.
My day is varied, often with me working in and out of 5 – 6 different matters. It is also an area that is much more involved in the political side of the law, with legislation that is constantly shifting to match what is going on in the world. But the best part of my role is not only about making the deal work for my clients, but about making sure the policy implications work for all the stakeholders involved.
Coming from a public sector background, I can walk my clients through the process having that understanding that it can take a bit of time for bureaucracy to get things sorted. I think having that public service experience is hugely beneficial.
How long have you been a WLA ACT member, and what interested you in joining?
I have been a member of WLA ACT for about 2 years. I was encouraged to join through Georgina McKay (WLA ACT Vice President), who was telling me about this organisation that she was helping to build that encouraged female lawyers. Georgina was advocating WLA ACT when it was initially really small, and I’m amazed at how it has grown.
When you go to the events and you meet the women there, they are these women who do so much and are interested in helping others progress. The last WLA ACT event I attended was the 2018 Pay & Conditions Survey release. I think the survey and its work is really important as it is difficult, particularly in the private sector, to know what others are getting paid and to have discussions about what is the market standard. Reflecting on the survey results, I think there is definitely room for movement, especially for young female lawyers.
If you could give one piece of advice to your first-year professional self, what would it be?
To be less concerned and worried about making mistakes. To know that every job you get, even if you don’t 100% love it, is teaching you something and giving you an opportunity to learn. I felt the first job I had, had to fulfil me and put me on the right path. But now I know and can be confident that whatever you’re doing, is getting you to that path and getting you to where you want to be.
Who is a professional that you look up to and why?
My female colleagues, and especially colleagues that are on at my level professionally. I find them inspiring that they get out there and are asking for more pay, asking for better conditions and pressing through invisible barriers to excel.