Paolo Mezzatesta – Manager with a Commonwealth department
During four years at UTS Law studying a Juris Doctor full-time, Paolo Mezzatesta didn’t have a moment to spare. By day, he worked in a junior management role for the Commonwealth Government in a sensitive area of administrative law, and in the evening, all holidays and summers he attended classes.
Although he had obtained a Bachelor of Economics from another university, Mezzatesta’s government role demanded a deeper understanding of the law. “UTS Law was the obvious choice as it was walking distance from my office. It was the only uni that offered a flexible timetable and evening classes – focused for people working full-time,” he says.
Mezzatesta enrolled in 2010 and quickly made a tight group of friends. “We’d get together in the library, swap study notes and supported each other throughout the degree,” he says.
“It was hard work, but the lecturers and tutors were very open to us asking them questions and the evening classes were smaller than during the day classes so there was a lot of interaction. Some of it was also taught online. We were all mature age so there was no pretense; we were just there to learn.”
As part of his Practical Legal Training, Mezzatesta also undertook an internship with the Australian government’s Office of the Legal Services Commissioner, which deals with complaints about lawyers.
After graduating in 2014, most of Mezzatesta’s friends didn’t go on to practise law – although most do have jobs with a legal dimension.
While he enjoyed the practical advocacy work in his Juris Doctor, Mezzatesta says he never seriously considered becoming a lawyer. His degree has made a significant difference to his work, though, giving him a deeper understanding of administrative procedures and judicial reviews, as well as international law and Australia’s obligations.
“I supervise and quality assure the work of a small team a small team and often we have to interpret a new law and how this will affect government policy,” he says. “Some people without legal training shy away from the law; they feel intimidated by it and reluctantly engage with it. So I take it on and with my degree I feel confident to ask the right questions and discuss issues with my legal colleagues.”
The degree also taught him other skills that he applies at work: deep critical thinking, how to distil complex information, work collaboratively and communicate effectively.