In conversation with Angela Mansour (McDonald’s)
In this blog post, we speak to McDonald’s Legal Counsel, Angela Mansour! She speaks about going from making coffees for a global corporation to advising them on legal matters - which just goes to show that you never know where a casual job at Maccas can take you! We love that Angela went straight in-house from law school - which has its challenges but certainly its benefits. Take it away Ange!
TLC: What made you want to study law?
AM: Growing up, I enjoyed watching law-related TV shows with my dad. I was fascinated about how complex the law could be and how lawyers were given the privilege of a client’s trust. I had my first legal experience as part of my year 10 work experience program where I shadowed a solicitor who advised a government department. My expectations shaped by Hollywood’s representation of the legal world were met with reality. It wasn’t as dramatic as I thought! However, it did make me appreciate more that the legal world was not so binary. Excited by the inevitable challenges, I pursued this interest further by taking legal studies in year 11 and 12. Later, I was accepted into a bachelor of law and science (psychology) at the University of Wollongong.
TLC: Tell us about your journey to how you got to where you are.
AM: In the fourth year of my degree, I decided to get more involved with the law faculty through the law society. I was voted as the Vice President for Administration, and in the year following, Vice President for Marketing and Publications. These positions gave me the opportunity to represent my own peers and assist in setting them, and future students, up for success in their law degrees. Amongst this, I was clerking at some boutique city firms during the week, while making coffees at my local McCafe on the weekend.
I still remember in my final year of university, I was checking my McDonald’s roster online at midnight and saw “12 MONTH LEGAL GRADUATE POSITION”. I couldn’t believe it! I have always loved the McDonald’s brand and its scale. To think, I could go from making their coffees to advising them on legal matters! It just goes to show you never know where an opportunity can take you.
My passion for the brand and determination for the role reflected in my application and interviews and I was lucky to be offered the role of a law clerk supporting the commercial legal team. In this experience, I assisted with preparing documentation for franchising transactions and marketing approvals. I also developed a keen interest in employment law. One year later, on my admission day, I was offered the role of a junior legal counsel for McDonald’s.
At the start of 2018, I was given the opportunity to manage the legal marketing portfolio. This includes consumer law, intellectual property matters, sponsorship negotiations and advertising approvals. It is definitely an area I enjoy. I love seeing a McDonald’s advertisement and knowing that I have contributed to it and the growth of the McDonald’s brand. In addition to this, I continue to embrace my interest in employment law by working with the human resources team at McDonald’s.
I still remember in my interviews for the graduate role, I kept being asked, “are you sure you want to start off in-house?” Didn’t they want me to want the job? Only now, I can appreciate the question. Usually the path followed is to start off in a private firm and gain more specialised expertise before coming into an in-house team, where you are expected to be an expert in your field and be commercial at the same time. I overcome this hurdle by continuously seeking feedback, taking the initiative to improve my expertise in my areas by attending a multitude of seminars to build my knowledge and organising training sessions with our supporting law firms. It definitely helps that McDonald’s is so supportive when it comes to training and opportunities for career development.
Being part of an in-house team for a global corporation is very rewarding and challenging. No two days are the same. I receive a variety of urgent matters from multiple people at once. One minute I am managing a trade mark infringement. Next, I am advising on workers compensation strategy. Then, on a call with a colleague in the UK discussing learnings from a campaign that will be implemented in Australia. Next, reviewing a sponsorship agreement to which I am interrupted to be pulled into a meeting where I am put on the spot to give legal advice on a matter I am hearing about for the first time. Nonetheless, I enjoy this fast-paced nature, and working together with other teams to achieve common business purpose.
TLC: What is the funniest or weirdest moment you've had in your legal career.
AM: I think one of the funniest moments of my career so far was when I turned up to our nautical themed Christmas part in the Katy Perry shark costume. Some people still don’t know it was me!
TLC: What is your one piece of advice to law students of today?
AM: It is important to remember that everything happens for a reason.
I still remember sitting in my Sports Law elective seminar and a young legal counsel from the Football Federation of Australia was presenting about his role. My friend whispered to me, “in-house at 25, that’s the dream”. Aware of the competitive job market, I never thought this could be me. Little did I know at the time that the weekend job I had since I was 15 would lead me to the opportunity I have today. If you don’t get the job or the clerkship you were hoping for, know that someday down the track you will be given an opportunity that will make you realise why. Just focus on achieving your personal best in your academics, in your life goals and on your wellbeing. The rest will work itself out!