Calling Melbourne home

MLS alumnus Yifan Wang (JD 2016) came to Australia from China for an internship during his undergraduate studies, and now calls Melbourne home. While studying at MLS, one lecture in particular had a dramatic effect on Yifan, broadening his understanding of the importance of the law and its real-life ramifications.

One class in particular sticks out in Yifan’s mind from his time at MLS. While sitting in a first-year public law lecture, Yifan witnessed his lecturer moved to tears discussing the Malaysia Solution case that he had personally worked on.

It had a profound effect on Yifan, who until this point had been thinking of law in the black-letter sense.

“It changed my mind,” he says. “I no longer saw the law as just a set of principles.”

“So many people can be affected by the decisions and actions of judges and lawyers. You can see the real world is impacted by your own study – so maybe you can change the world in the future to a certain extent.”

Yifan made the most of his time at MLS, enjoying both the intellectual challenges provided by his studies and the extra-curricular activities on offer through the LSS. He served as Vice-President of the Melbourne-China Law Society (MCLS), organising events and hosting visiting delegations.

“The experience in MCLS developed my leadership skills and taught me how to organise activities in Australia. This has helped to show the range of my capacity to law firms during clerkship interviews.”

For Yifan, the support networks in place for students and alumni is a key part of the MLS experience. As a student, Yifan made the most of the school’s career services, receiving assistance with his resume and job applications, and now takes advantage of networking opportunities provided by MLS alumni functions.

He will soon take up a graduate lawyer position at Herbert Smith Freehills, citing MLS alumni support as a contributing factor in his career development.

As he progresses in his career, Yifan hopes to work in different jurisdictions around the world, and feels that his studies have provided a strong foundation for this. He greatly values the transferrable skills which he has taken away from the JD.

“The most important thing I’ve learnt here is the interpersonal skills, like how to persuade others in a manner that is polite but still persuasive.”

Through his internship and studies in Melbourne, Yifan has also learnt to navigate the differences between the Chinese and Australian legal industries.

“In China, it tends to be less formal at the beginning of a working relationship. Lawyers usually begin in a friendly manner and then start a professional relationship. Here it’s different: you’re expected to be formal at the beginning and become less formal later.”

Yifan has become used to these differences and also appreciates the work-life balance in Australia, making the most of his downtime by getting outdoors and enjoying nature.

“My favourite pastime in Australia is swimming. There are plenty of swimming pools in Melbourne, and St Kilda Beach and Brighton Beach are nice places to swim outside. I also like to go fishing around the Mornington Peninsula, where you can fish close to the beach. That's the amazing thing about Melbourne.”

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