13 March 2015, Written by Jenna Rathbone


NICOLE Murdoch started her career in electrical engineering and worked for 10 years in information technology before she found her true calling.

She undertook a Juris Doctor at Bond University and, after graduating in 2007, worked for nine months with Minter Ellison before training to become a patent and trademark attorney at Cullens Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys.

After three years, Murdoch realised she was more interested in the legal aspect of her work, rather than engineering and moved to Bennett and Philp in 2011.

Murdoch now predominantly works in intellectual property which includes both litigious and non-litigious work and was recently appointed as a 2015 names panellist of the .au Domain Administration (auDA) - a nationwide policy authority and industry self-regulatory body for the internet .au domain space.

5 minutes with Nicole Murdoch

What made you enter the legal profession?

I had always been interested in the law but I had chosen electrical engineering as I seemed to be naturally gifted at mathematics. As my IT career progressed I realised that I was more interested in the legal aspects of the projects I was working on rather than actually programming. One day I realised that instead of wishing I was in the law I should just bite the bullet and study law. I was fortunate as my boss was very understanding and we had an agreement that I could take time off to study and would return if I didn't enjoy the law. It took about three lectures for me to call him and tell him I was never going back to IT.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your career?

Moving into intellectual property (IP) law has been the biggest challenge of my career. IP law has historically been a popular choice of specialities for practitioners, and positions in IP practice groups are few and far between. However, with my engineering experience I had an advantage over other practitioners and was able to train with a patent and trademark attorney firm. That training has been invaluable and I doubt I would have the knowledge base that I have now without it.

Can you give Brisbane Legal a rundown on your biggest professional achievements?

Ethically I cannot speak about my cases but one of the biggest pleasures I derive from my role is combining the knowledge that I gained from my previous role in information technology with my role as a solicitor. This is particularly relevant with software cases, whether that be an infringement matter or a simple commercialisation matter. The commercial realities of working in IT play a major part in how I draft contracts, how I run litigious cases and even how I conduct IP due diligences and audits.

What advice would you give to aspiring legal professionals seeking to get into the industry?

It is unfortunately very difficult for graduates to find a position in the current financial climate and I recommend graduates take any role they are offered to first become experienced practitioners. Even if they do not specialise in that area of the law, the background that role will give them will be invaluable. It will give them a breadth of experience that will serve them well over their entire career.  If solicitors have an interest in IP they might consider studying a masters of industrial or intellectual property. This will give them specialised teaching in patents, trademarks, designs and copyright law.

Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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