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How fast-tracking her studies gave Victoria a career head-start

Victoria Kilby is a Deakin Law graduate and now a Law Institute of Victoria Accredited Specialist in family law. Fast-tracking allowed her to complete her Deakin degree in only three years

After finishing her VCE in 2008, Victoria Kilby did not waste time. Excited to start university, she launched herself straight into a Bachelor of Psychology at Deakin.

But, taking an elective unit in legal studies early on, she soon discovered that her passion was somewhere entirely different. After just one year of studying, she decided to transfer degrees and pursue a Bachelor of Laws instead. 

Victoria says she enjoyed her time at Deakin so much, that she was able to complete her degree quite quickly.

‘I fast-tracked my studies by undertaking subjects in the third trimester, over summer, and completed the four-year degree in only three years.’

‘Finishing so soon, enabled me to start my graduate traineeship when I was 22 years old and subsequently, I began working and practicing as a lawyer when I was still quite young,’ she explains.

Victoria credits Deakin’s social community as well as the hands-on nature of her degree for her academic success. She also says that Deakin’s online learning systems made it almost impossible for her to fall behind; and a wide range of elective units – more than she was able to enrol in – kept her interested the whole way through. 

‘Both the staff and students were so welcoming and friendly, and there were always events and activities organised both through the Deakin Law Students’ Society and by the wider university, which were so much fun – the law ball being a particular highlight of each year.’

‘The requirement to complete a practical legal unit meant that I got out into the workforce in the last year of my degree and learnt to put my studies to practical use. Volunteering at the Darebin Community Legal Centre, afforded me invaluable interactions with clients and the Court system,’ she remembers.

Upon graduating, Victoria was offered a traineeship at a mid-tier firm in Melbourne in 2012. She completed the Leo Cussen Practical Legal Training and started to rotate through the areas of commercial litigation and corporate advisory, which she soon discovered were not her calling. 

‘I was admitted as a lawyer in April 2013, and was fortunate enough to be offered a job as a solicitor at a family law firm. I very quickly fell in love with family law and have been practising in this area for the past seven years.’ 

‘I am currently an Associate at Coote Family Lawyers, a family law firm in Camberwell. We have a great team and a diverse range of clients and work – and I intend to continue down this path.’

A major highlight of Victoria’s career thus far, was being conferred as a Law Institute Victoria (LIV) Accredited Specialist in late 2019.  

This prestigious title is a significant achievement and awards practitioners many prospects to differentiate themselves through attaining a higher level of competence and specialist skills in their chosen field. On an academic level, it also offers exciting opportunities for further study, such as credit-for-prior learning arrangements into Deakin’s Master of Laws for example.

Victoria says that achieving this status was a direct result of many late nights spent studying, while working at the same time.

‘The Accredited Specialisation program helped to expand and solidify my knowledge of family law and studying in an area which is applicable to my daily practice made it even more meaningful.’

‘This award is certainly the highlight of my career to date,’ she reiterates.

Although it has been mostly smooth sailing, getting to where she is today did not come without a few small hurdles. Victoria remembers there were many times when she questioned whether she was heading down the right path. This included changing her career trajectory from psychology to law and undertaking her traineeship in corporate and commercial law, only to realise that she could not see herself pursuing long careers in those areas.

‘I ended up just having to focus on where and what I wanted to be – which was practicing in family law.  And my experience in psychology and corporate as well as commercial law has helped me with my current work by means of being able to relate to my clients, who are often experiencing difficult times,’ she says.

‘Not only do I find myself being able to relate to their behaviour in order to get them past difficult times and deal with the legal aspects of a separation for example; there is also a regular intersection with corporate entities such as family businesses and trusts,’ she says.  

For those thinking about, or currently pursuing a law degree, Victoria has some advice.

‘Involve yourself in both the study and the social aspects of university if you can – networking from an early point will assist down the track,’ she says.

‘Use your time at university wisely and try to get as much practical experience working in a professional environment while you are studying. Don’t wait until your last year to apply for a clerkship; whether it may be volunteering at a community legal centre, applying for casual or part-time administrative jobs at law firms which specialise in the area you are interested in – it will all help when you have finished your degree and you are looking to apply for jobs.’