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Exhibit A: Law grads stay local to set industry example

There’s plenty of evidence to prove that University of Southern Queensland law graduate Sarah-Jane MacDonald could successfully practise in any major city in the world – but building her career in Toowoomba and taking over the family firm has always been an open and shut case.

Graduating in 2014, Sarah-Jane worked full time alongside her father at MacDonald Law throughout her degree.

“This was something both my brother Jag and I did while we completed law at USQ in Toowoomba, and it gave us a real insight into the stark difference between studying law and practicing law,” Sarah-Jane said.

“Being able to already have our toes in the water while gaining our degree has made us better lawyers and it’s a real privilege to now be in a position to offer other law students that same experience,” she said.

In early 2017, the MacDonald siblings bought the law firm from their father, Shane, when he moved to the bar as a Barrister.

“Dad formally left the firm at the start of this year, so 2020 has been a very steep learning curve for us as we managed expectations through a pandemic,” Sarah-Jane said.

“We are incredibly lucky that the team we have built are all on the same page when it comes to what we’re trying to achieve for our clients, and the consistency and commitment everyone has shown throughout some really trying months has been humbling.

The team Sarah-Jane and Jag have curated is largely made up of USQ graduates and current students.

“In addition to Jag and myself, we have three USQ law alumni on staff and another three current USQ law students also working with us,” Sarah-Jane said.

“It wasn’t something that we set out to do with any sort of specific agenda, and we have plenty of other employees and students who come to us from other universities, but it definitely speaks to our focus on community and the value we place on local knowledge.

“To be able to study your undergraduate degree in a location where there are also real employment opportunities is crucial, and that’s not always been the case in the Toowoomba region.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to play in this space by building a business that supports local students and offers an excellent career pathway. The more interaction local law firms can have with students and graduates, the stronger the role they can play in the community.”

Five people smiling at the camera
L-R: Jag MacDonald (Director), Sarah-Jane MacDonald (Legal Practitioner Director) and solicitors Ryan McCullough, Joe McConnell and Alex Edwards – all USQ law graduates (Credit: USQ Photography).