Nisha Selvaraj - Senior Legal Officer, Indigenous Affairs Legal, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

Nisha Selvaraj.jpg

Artwork by Doreen Djorlom from the Oenpelli area in West Arnhem Land, NT

Nisha was profiled for our July 2017 newsletter. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is a WLA ACT Corporate Member

Why did you join WLA?

I joined the WLA because I wanted to support the work of the WLA in advocating and promoting the interests of women lawyers in the ACT. I know the WLA has already made significant headway in drawing attention to issues such as pay conditions of junior lawyers and diversity in judicial and tribunal appointments in the ACT. Being part of the WLA means that I can contribute to future work of the WLA in this space. It also provides some great development opportunities for lawyers in the ACT, as well as the chance to hear and learn from the experiences of other women lawyers.

What WLA event or initiative are you looking forward to, and why? 

I am looking forward to the Mentor Breakfast with Jennifer Wyborn on September – I think it will be a great way to start the day! As a government lawyer, I am particularly interested to hear about Jennifer’s experience working in government versus her current role in private practice.

Who is a professional that inspires you and why? 

I would have to say I have learned a great deal from many of my colleagues in the public service. In both my current role as a government lawyer, and in my previous job as a legal policy officer, I have been lucky enough to work with women and men who have shown great leadership and strength in both their professional and personal pursuits.

I am still in the relatively early stages of my career, and it has been quite inspiring to see how other legal professionals – in various stages of their careers - have dealt with the challenges of balancing their professional roles with their personal roles as carers, partners, friends and mentors. In particular, I’ve admired their courage to take time ‘out’ of their careers, whether it has been because of family responsibilities, to pursue further study, to travel or even to make a complete career change.

Quite a few of my colleagues have now become a great source of guidance, support and friendship to me in my own career.

If you could give one piece of advice to your first-year professional self, what would it be?

I think the best piece of advice I could give myself, and it’s a piece of advice I have given to friends and colleagues alike, is to back yourself.

When I began my first job as a graduate lawyer, I was constantly underselling my abilities, even when I received positive feedback from others. But eventually I learned that people don’t give positive feedback just to be nice; they give it to you so you can keep harnessing and developing your strengths. The confidence that others had in me has helped me to build up my own confidence in myself.