Paddy Miller

Extracurricular experiences and connections made as a student leader and advocate led Paddy to her current role as an employment lawyer.

Paddy Miller

Trigger warning: mention of sexual assault and sexual harassment

When I decided to study law, I did not envision a career in the legal profession. I saw my law degree as a solid stepping-stone into many different careers.

While completing my studies, I gained experience working as an intern in two government departments: one in policy and the other in Human Resources. My first full-time role after graduating was in Select Committees in Parliament. All this work experience helped to connect me with fantastic mentors, many of whom I am still in contact with today.

My legal studies taught me how to think critically and write persuasive, evidence-based arguments. However, it was the extracurricular activities I was involved in at university that guided me towards the career I am in today. In 2018, I was elected as the Equity Officer of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association. In early 2018, news broke that a Partner at law firm, Russell McVeagh, was accused of sexually harassing five summer clerks. The student community was outraged, and within a couple of weeks, I was part of a group of student representatives who rallied together to coordinate a campaign against sexual assault and harassment in the professional services. This work culminated in a student-led protest on Lambton Quay. The experience ignited my passion to advocate for safe workplaces. The experience also introduced me to one of the Partners of the firm I currently work for, Steph Dyhrberg, who was a keynote speaker at the protest. I am now proud to be practising as an Employment Lawyer at Dyhrberg Drayton Employment Law.

In terms of helpful courses that I took at law school, employment law and dispute resolution were particularly relevant. Employment law disputes are often resolved outside of a courtroom, using dispute resolution mechanisms, such as mediation and negotiation, so I found the dispute resolution course particularly helpful.

My advice to those considering a career in law is that you do not have to be a top A+ student to become a lawyer. Invest in extracurricular activities you enjoy and focus on your passions; this will make you stand out to employers and show you are a multi-dimensional person. Lean on your friends and tutors for support because finishing a law degree is truly a team effort — you don't have to do it alone. Also, enjoy the ride that is university, and remember that your mental health is the most important thing — a career can and will wait.