In conversation with Karina Veling

In this blog post, we speak to Karina Veling, in-house counsel at The Star Entertainment Group. We initially met Karina on LinkedIn and were struck by her energy and her insightful observations about the ever-changing legal industry. After a coffee meeting and many emails and LinkedIn comments, we just had to feature this wonderful thought-leader on our blog. Karina speaks about her interesting entry into in-house law as a graduate, the importance of learning things outside the law, and trusting your gut!

TLC: What made you want to study law?
This is always a tough question! It was pretty simple for me – I really enjoyed legal studies at school and had no idea what else to pursue at university. I always saw law as a broad enough subject to open many doors for me, so thought “why not”. I was also attracted to the idea of learning and understanding the one thing that everyone in society is subject to (what a concept!) I was lucky to love my first semester and knew law was for me.

TLC: Tell us about your journey to how you got to where you are.
My story is quite vanilla, albeit I took a different path than most law students graduating at my time.

I was a quintessential student finishing law school, unsure of what road I wanted to take, and willing to do anything to learn and grow. After a short stint in criminal & family law, I knew it wasn’t for me, and found myself drawing back to the business electives I studied at university. After completing my PLT, in a very competitive law firm space, I was lucky to accept a graduate in-house role. I was intrigued by what was positioned as a varied role rather than a traditional law firm position in a defined practice area – and I’ve loved in-house work ever since!

My journey definitely wasn’t planned, and in hindsight I think gut feeling has been one of the biggest drivers in my career changes – always go with your gut! Every opportunity I’ve had, even the ones I didn’t quite enjoy, has taught me so much (about myself and about how I want to practice as a lawyer) – there's no such thing a wrong decision. I recall being afraid of the tech industry because technology was never a language I spoke well – or so I thought. It’s not until I was slowly introduced to the tech side of my varied role that I realised I had an interest in the area. I’ve now worked for tech and software providers, and my current role focuses strongly on IT contracting. In hindsight, my own confidence was holding me back from exploring an area I now have a real passion for. Lesson learnt – give everything a try and give yourself some credit!

TLC: What is the weirdest moment you've had in your legal career?
The weirdest moment for me was the first time a project I worked on was launched and I saw that specific product out in the market place. This still happens with product launches, promotions and different advertisements; and is one of the reasons I love working in-house. As a business partner you get ingrained in the organisation, seeing it grow and develop through different projects, products, goals and strategies. In this example, my role of reviewing labeling, product design, specifications and marketing materials helped the product get to market – and seeing that ‘in the real world’ was very rewarding.

TLC: What is your one piece of advice to law students of today?
Learn as much as you can outside of the law and your standard legal subjects. If you have electives, choose non-legal subjects. Perhaps this is commercial/business areas for the corporate minded, or even relationship building/soft skills for other areas of law such as family or criminal. As a corporate lawyer, I can say with full confidence that it always helps to have a commercial and business foundation, allowing you to better understand the drivers of your internal or external clients – this works for both in-house or private practice lawyers. It’ll give you a great head-start and set you apart from your peers.

Learn as much as you can outside of the law... it always helps to have a commercial and business foundation, allowing you to better understand the drivers of your internal or external clients.