11 March 2021

Guru In The Spotlight: Katie Warner

1. What area at KWM do work in and what is your specialisation?

I work in the Intellectual Property team within the Dispute Resolution group in Sydney.

2. How long have you been with the firm for?

Two years.

3. Why are you passionate about our Community Impact programme?

I am passionate about KWM’s Community Impact programme for three main reasons:

  1. Access to justice – Cost is a significant barrier to accessing legal services in Australia.  It’s fantastic to see the resources of a firm like KWM (with all its super-brainy lawyers) deployed to assist our pro-bono clients.
  2. Personal satisfaction – I think everyone at KWM has something to give and something to gain from participating in the Community Impact programme. Every matter I’ve worked on has posed fun and unique opportunities. I have been inspired by so many of the individuals I have met, and the clients are always so grateful for your help and time.
  3. Practical legal knowledge and transferable skills – The Community Impact programme has an educational benefit. During my two years at KWM I have learnt about road access rights in the Northern Territory, social media terms and conditions, Board requirements for charities and the Australian youth detention system (just to name a few). I’ve also had the opportunity to meet new people at KWM in different teams and centres.

4. What projects or programs have you been involved in recently?

TalkLaw – For the past two years I have been involved in the TalkLaw community legal education initiative. TalkLaw targets Year 10 students in areas with higher culturally and linguistically diverse or lower socio-educational demographics.  In New South Wales, the programme is delivered at Alexandria Park Community School alongside lawyers from Suncorp. Our presentations traverse a range of legal topics relevant to young people, for example consumer law and social media.

ID Know Yourself – Last year I did some work preparing various legal documents for an organisation called “ID. Know Yourself” or “IDKY”. IDKY runs mentoring programmes aimed at helping young Aboriginal boys and girls leaving out of home care. You can read more about IDKY on their website. IDKY was founded by an individual called Isaiah Dawe. He is a very inspiring person and truly engaging speaker.  

Tiddas for Tiddas – I have also completed some work drafting speaker agreements and social media terms and conditions for Tiddas4Tiddas, which is a podcast series hosted by Marlee Silva in conjunction with Mamamia (I’m an avid listener and subscriber). Tiddas4Tiddas is an initiative aimed at empowering young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls. Tiddas = sister. Tiddas4Tiddas also has a popular Instagram page where Marlee shares stories.

Arts Law Document Review Service – I recently signed up to participate in the Arts Law Document Review Service. The service is run in conjunction with the Arts Law Centre, one of KWM’s community partners. Arts Law provides free or low cost specialised legal advice, education and resources to Australian artists and arts organisations across all art forms, on a wide range of arts related legal and business matters.  The Document Review Service involves a lawyer reviewing documents that relate to a client’s legal query, and providing phone advice.

5. Any stories you can share?

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we had to move the 2020 TalkLaw programme online. Despite early teething issues related to technology, the programme was a resounding success. In fact, the students were more forthcoming with their queries -  I think the pseudo-anonymity of being behind a keyboard helps boost their confidence! When asked what you should do if you are asked questions by the Police, a couple of students responded with “plead the fifth”, which made all the lawyers laugh.

6. Why did you/do you get involved? What were/are your motivations?

I think we’re lucky at KWM to have so many resources at our fingertips. I don’t think there is any excuse not to get involved!

7. What skills or experiences have you gained through this work?

It’s difficult to list all the skills and experiences – the main ones are:

  1. presenting confidently – teenagers are a tough crowd;
  2. Interacting with clients that have little to no understanding about basic legal rights and systems; and
  3. preparing legal advice in a digestible format, without legal jargon or nuance.

8. What tips do you have for others thinking about getting involved in the Community Impact program?

Just do it! There’s a need for pro bono work in so many areas, and all KWM lawyers have skills that can be applied in meaningful ways in many areas. The KWM Community Impact Team are very approachable, so if you’re interested then I encourage you to reach out today.

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