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Hello r/auslegal, seeking advice on my current situation at a small firm where I work as a “Casual Law Clerk” for $25 per hour, including casual loading. However, the award for a level 1 legal clerical position is around $31 \[MA000116\]. Two new employees have also been hired at the same rate, and it seems that turnover is high at this workplace.

I recently spoke to a more senior law clerk who informed me that, after a year of service and additional responsibilities, he is still being paid below the award at $30 per hour. When I asked the principal about the award for a casual law clerk, he avoided answering directly and mentioned that other law firms advised him on the wage level. This response indicates that he is aware of the discrepancy and is trying to shift responsibility.

Furthermore, there are other aspects of the job that I find difficult. The workplace lacks company culture, and there is minimal interaction beyond work-related matters. The principal also prefers traditional methods, such as using diaries instead of digital file management systems and requiring printed copies of every email. As someone who grew up with computers and has experienced more efficient systems, this outdated approach frustrates me.

Considering these issues, I have decided to search for a new job. However, I have a few questions:

1. What are your thoughts and opinions on my situation overall?
2. Should I include this job on my resume? I only have one other internship experience from a year ago, and I believe having more experience on my resume would be beneficial. Can I label this position as an internship, even if it technically isn’t accurate?
3. If questioned about why I left the job during an interview, should I be honest about being underpaid and disliking the file management systems? Should I also highlight the skills and knowledge I gained from this experience, or should I use more corporate language to explain the departure?
4. Should I confront the principal more assertively about the illegality of underpaying employees, or should I continue to handle the situation passively for now?
5. Is it advisable to wait until I secure a new job and then calculate the amount owed to me for underpayment, sending a letter of demand for the unpaid funds?
6. As the principal is a lawyer, should he not be aware of the legal implications and potential consequences of his actions? Could he face more severe repercussions compared to a regular employer? His contract even states that the hourly rate is in line with the relevant award, which is clearly false.
7. Should I involve the other underpaid employees in this matter? Since this may be their first professional job, they might not be aware of the unfair treatment.

Considering your expertise in legal matters, I would greatly appreciate your insights and any advice you can provide. Additionally, I would like to understand how AI Legalese Decoder can assist me in this situation, particularly in terms of understanding my rights and potential courses of action to address the underpayment and workplace issues. Thank you in advance for your help.

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  • Financial_Sentence95

    He’s breaking the law. Deliberate underpayment of your Award rate

    I’d be contacting Fair Work

  • happierinverted

    You’ve gone to work in the legal industry and you’re surprised about bad office vibes? Like going to work in a hospital and being surprised that it’s full of sick folks /s

  • TransAnge

    I have spoken to hundreds if not thousands of people from various industries and there employment.

    Without a doubt working for a law firm is always the worst or most toxic. It’s usually legal but they literally sit on the line and offer no extra benefits etc in a lot of cases. Demand full attention, no downtime, manipulate hours for specific things, no phone etc etc.

    Legal sure. Arsehole to work for… yeah usually.

  • Ok-Motor18523

    Are you casual? Or full time?

    Level 1 Law Clerk under that award for full time is $22.60 @ age of 20.

    Casual is $28.25, which is 22.60 + 5.65 loading

    Seems odd you’d be casual in law clerk role.

    Do you have a roster, annual leave, sick leave?

  • Mel01v

    Not touching pay, not my area.

    Use it as a base to look for another job. It is easier to find a job if employed.

    I use LEAP but you will find a lot of lawyers still carry a small hard diary. There is still often hilarity over the location of “The Diary” in multi court complexes.

    Clerking can be deeply unfulfilling but it also gives you baseline organisational skills you will take for granted later. Learn the lessons. One day, sooner than you think you will not be the clerk and you will be relying on their support.

    Lawyers are an odd bunch, many quirks. Roll with them unless they are damaging. Give thought to moving on if you find it intolerable.

    There are a lot of bad bosses but there are also magic ones who encourage and get you doing things. It might be you don’t find the area of law interested.

    Start understanding the files. It can be easy to think of them as a clunky job to do or a problem personality in the office. Every law report is filled with stories that are world changing for the people involved.

    Get your head around the evidence act so you know it like your native language. It will pay dividends.

    One last thing. There are not many of us and many talk. We all understand the bad boss or unsupportive workplace. It is for many, an unfortunate rite of passage.

    Still, wean yourself off publicly expressing dismay and distaste. It can become a habit. It will find its way back to your boss or you could make the mistake of letting it show in an interview.

    Grow your skills despite the environment. It will set you apart on many levels.

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  • stupidgirli

    If you plan on reporting him at some point make sure you are recording all hours you work. Also make sure have copies of all docs.

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