Name:                         Melinda Wallman

Graduating Year:       1992

Degree:                       Bachelor of Arts/Law

UNSW Volunteer:       Director of the UK Foundation Board of UNSW

What inspired you to study the degree you chose?

I was interested in doing a humanities based generalist degree that left many options open as I did not know what I wanted to do when I left school.


What led you to your current position and chosen career path?

I always knew that I did not want to be a lawyer. I practised law for a few years to gain general professional experience, then opened a jewellery business with my mother, catering to tourists. This was a step too far away from the law and I missed the profession. I thought hard about what I could do that involved sales and marketing as well as the legal profession, and which would provide international opportunities. All lines of questioning led me to international legal search.


What has led you to reside in the United Kingdom?

From my first landing at JFK, I wanted to live in New York and was determined to get there.  I knew that I could not get there straight from Australia, so joined a London legal recruitment firm and helped to establish their international business in order to build my resume for a job in New York. I applied to several legal recruitment firms in New York in 1998, flew there to interview and obtained several offers. After a moment of hubris, I realized that all contracts were commission only. I saved my AUD and packed my bags, joining Major, Lindsey & Africa in 1999. After two years, the firm sent me to Hong Kong to open its first foreign office on a promise of partnership.  I made partner in 2002 then moved to London in 2004 to establish our London office and to build a life for the long-term.


What are your fondest memories from your time studying at UNSW?

Intellectual Property classes with Jill McHugh who made a point of pushing the women, even though the men were naturally more assertive; and Aborigines and the Law with Garth Nettheim, who changed my world view. I went on to work as his researcher and became friends with Larissa Behrendt, who inspires me to this day.


If you could have given your ‘uni self’ some advice what would it have been?

Have the confidence to participate as it is through participation and engagement that one learns the most.


Click here for more information about the UK Foundation Board.