Danica Kustura decided to make a half time career change, transitioning from a senior marketing position to a career in law.
Regulatory Strategy and Affairs, National Australia Bank (NAB)
I chose the Juris Doctor at RMIT knowing it would be a practical and progressive course with lecturers who have industry experience.
Why did you decide to change your career from marketing to law?
In my marketing career, I was more interested in the terms and conditions of contracts and the rules and regulations behind the products I was working on. After almost getting to the half-way point in my career, I began to wonder about other possibilities there were for the next 25 years. When I discovered RMIT offered the Juris Doctor on a part-time basis, I applied and began my new journey.
What did you do to stay focused on the end goal?
Once I started the JD, I was determined to enjoy the six-year experience and participate in as many extra activities as I could manage, both internal and external to RMIT. It was a new industry and area of knowledge for me, so my aim was to get exposed to as many aspects of the legal industry as I could. I wanted to open my mind to new ways of thinking and learning and new career possibilities.
Some of the things I did to keep me focused included:
- Visiting courts in Melbourne to watch and observe the proceedings whenever possible.
- Volunteering at the opening of RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice (CIJ) which led to meeting former Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard.
- Volunteering as a jury member for the Jury Trial Advocacy Workshop run by The Victorian Bar allowed me to experience different perspectives of a trial.
- Participating in the RMIT CIJ’s Court of Appeal Internship program, where I spent a week immersed in the court system, going behind the scenes and meeting the judges.
- Getting involved with the RMIT Law Students’ Society in various roles (Events Officer, Publications Officer and Vice President) widened my network.
- Enrolling in the RMIT US Study Tour (Washington and New York) where I got to visit the IMF and World Bank. I was able to do some interesting research on the globalisation of US private prison operators in Victoria as well as the launch of Apple Pay in Australia.
- Participating in Law Week every year to take in new experiences and talk to people in the industry.
How did you prioritise your coursework, life and work commitments? What’s your number one tip for time management?
It is really challenging to achieve a life balance while working and studying, so I had to have realistic expectations. This meant no more late nights at work, a realistic exercise program and eight hours of sleep. Being healthy physically leads to a healthy mind. You have to know your limits and learn to say no. My motto was ‘one day at a time’, which helped me get through. I knew at the end of the day it was not forever, so the sacrifice was worth it.
I religiously planned each 12 week semester at the start of every year and my life worked around that. Being supported by my employer was important and it helps to openly communicate your needs to achieve some level of flexibility.
What are your future career aspirations?
With both a legal and commercial perspective, I see endless opportunities. Long term, I would like to utilise my experience to work from home in a flexible working environment offering a combination of business, marketing and legal knowledge.
Technology is evolving how we do things so quickly that I like to have an open mind about future opportunities. I believe that it is important to be multi-talented and multi-dimensional for a modern business world and be open to future change.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career switch to law?
Be clear about why you want to do it and where you want to end up. If you want to follow the traditional graduate path, you need to research the job market before you attempt the switch because there is a lot of competition. There are so many other ways to use a JD qualification other than working in a law firm. Keep an open mind about how you can apply it to other industries and you will be amazed at the world of opportunities.
The Juris Doctor is a 6 year commitment and it’s not easy. It’s relentless and rewarding at the same time. There is a lot of reading and writing and you have to enjoy this aspect of it. When you do something that is of value and interest to you, life becomes so much more interesting.