There was never any doubt in Pinar Tat’s mind as to where she would end up. In fact, there was only ever one viable option.
“I had the rare advantage of knowing what I wanted to do from an early age. I always wanted to be a lawyer and practice law. That was my goal.”
Her goal was clear, and as Pinar embarked on her Juris Doctor studies at Melbourne Law School in 2016, so was her path. However, it was her exposure to the school’s Mentor Program and the mentorship of Judge Wendy Wilmoth in particular, that would have a profound impact on Pinar's career trajectory.
“I was encouraged and supported by her to pursue criminal law fearlessly. She made me feel those goals were attainable, which has really helped lead me to where I am today.”
The opportunity to observe Judge Wilmoth at such close quarters offered invaluable lessons in how the law is practically applied in the criminal justice system.
The study of law is so theoretical. This program gave me real and practical insights into what it looks like inside the courtroom. We had some really interesting discussions about the presumption of innocence. As a law student, it was fascinating to be able to have those conversations with someone as experienced as Judge Wilmoth.
Created in 2009, the Melbourne Law School Mentor Program supports on average 350 students per year, matching them with a mentor in their chosen field of law. For mentees, it offers invaluable exposure to real-world experiences, creates industry connections and reveals fresh employment outcomes. And for mentors, the experience can prove equally as meaningful.
"Mentoring is an integral part of your development in the legal profession. It’s really rewarding for mentors and mentees. There is great value in what can be learned and taught from those who have had long careers.”
Always knowing her heart to be in the practice of advocacy, Pinar found her time in the courtroom only reinforced her desire to practice law.
“Being able to observe the courtroom solidified my desire to practice there. As fascinating as it was, it was also inspiring. It was this experience that allowed me to understand that the courtroom was where I wanted to be.”
After graduating, Pinar went on to pursue her criminal law passion and secured work as a Judge’s Associate in the same County Court as her mentor, Judge Wilmoth.
And although their time together was relatively brief, the relationship forged between Pinar and Judge Wilmoth has been an enduring one. Pinar continues to share her career successes with her former mentor.
“I recently passed the Bar exam. So, I let Judge Wilmoth know the good news. It’s an exciting milestone to share with her in terms of my career progression.
"It’s been very encouraging to have a figure like her to look to for guidance and support in my career. I look forward to staying in touch and keeping her in-the-know as my career and future builds further.”
For Pinar, admission to the Victorian Bar is the next natural step in what she hopes will prove to be a long and rewarding legal career. And like most who benefit from the Melbourne Law School Mentor Program, she is hoping to replicate the same time and kindness shown to her by Judge Wilmoth to guide and mentor the next generation of aspiring lawyers.
In 2021, Pinar joined the Mentor Program – she is currently mentoring a second year JD student on career pathways and progression.
For more information or to register for the Melbourne Law School Mentor Program, click here.