UNE School of Law’s alumni are an impressive yet interesting group of people! Many have forged traditional and successful legal careers whilst others have taken ‘the road less travelled.’
One example of an alumni who has had an impressive but distinctive career is Claire Chaffey. Claire was born and bred in Armidale and grew up on an idyllic rural property on the edge of the university town. Claire decided to attend UNE where she spent her first year at St Alberts College – or ‘Albies’ as it is affectionately known.
Claire enjoyed all her arts and law units at UNE but she especially loved ‘Public International Law.’ In this unit Claire’s interest in the legal systems of overseas jurisdictions and human rights issues was piqued. This interest has been sustained throughout the years and Claire is currently involved in LAWASIA, which, as part of its functions, aims to protect human rights in the Asia-Pacific region.
When Claire finished her Arts/Law degree she spent some time travelling overseas before undertaking a graduate job at mid-tier law firm Sparke Helmore. After a couple of years, Claire transitioned to Railcorp where she worked as a Workplace Investigator. Whilst in this position, Claire investigated bullying and sexual harassment allegations and cases.
Claire then decided it was time for a career change and enrolled and successfully completed a Graduate Certificate in Journalism through Charles Sturt University. After a journalism internship in Ghana, West Africa, Claire worked at Lawyer’s Weekly for a few years. She then decided it was time for a change in career direction.
Claire, who can speak fluent French and a bit of Italian, decided to follow her passion and start her own lifestyle magazine called French Living. You see, Claire is enthusiastic about everything to do with France – so much so she even owns a property in rural France, which she visits whenever possible.
Claire describes the day she launched her magazine as being one of the most exciting days in her life. Apparently as soon as the magazine was launched her team celebrated by spending the evening at a beautiful French restaurant where they drank copious amounts of French champagne!
After a few years of running her own magazine, the Law Society of NSW offered Claire the chance to relaunch and reinvigorate the Society’s Journal. Claire wasn’t initially interested in this offer, but when she was told she could essentially have free reign with the magazine she decided to put French Living on ice and take on the challenge. Claire so impressed her employers she was soon promoted to the Head of Communications of the Law Society of NSW on top of her Managing Editor role of the LSJ.
Claire notes her current position with the LSJ allows her to combine her love of law and journalism in the ‘most perfect way.’ She is passionate about her job and appreciates being able to report on important issues whilst speaking with interesting and intelligent people who do fascinating things.
When I was interviewing Claire, the latest edition of the LSJ had just arrived on her desk after literally being collected from the printing press. Whilst clutching the still warm magazine Claire noted seeing the end product of all the hard work of her team as one of the best parts of her job.
When she is not working Claire tries in vain to stay fit, though is often tempted by whatever new series in showing on Netflix. As Claire lives in Potts Point in Sydney she often indulges in celebrity spotting without setting foot in a cinema or television studio. For example, she recently sat next to David Wenham in one of her local cafes and she sees Lee Lin Chin, Jenny Brockie, and Michelle and Commando almost weekly as they live in the ‘hood. Even though Claire is surrounded by A-listers on an almost daily basis she cites her recent meeting with former justice Michael Kirby as being a real career and personal highlight.
Claire is about to spend a month in France where she can indulge in everything to do with ‘French Living’ once again!