David Knobel completed his Law degree in 2017. He now works as a solicitor with P&E Law, where he specialises in native title and cultural heritage law. For the past two years he has been recognised as a "rising star" in these fields by leading independent reviewer Doyles Guide.
“I work across my firm's practice areas of native title and cultural heritage, and mining, resources and coal seam gas. So the work I do is mostly related to the rights and interests different parties have to use land or water.
“Before I went to Law school, I did several years working in Indigenous health promotion, and so native title law seemed like an obvious fit for me. Native title and cultural heritage law is complex and intellectually interesting, and touches on a lot of other areas of law. Much of the work I do is about capacity building with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations and assisting them to build economic self-determination for their communities.
“At the moment, I am the solicitor on the record for two native title claims. I also do quite a lot of negotiations for things like native title and cultural heritage protection agreements, or conduct and compensation agreements. Most of these agreements are about how a development proponent like mining, gas or other resource development company, or a government authority, can access and use a client's land or protect their native title or cultural heritage interests. There is certainly an element of law being a force for good: trying to ensure that in something like a mining agreement negotiation, for example, the Indigenous party has the best possible advice and the power balance is more equal.
“Being a lawyer is great, but it is also at times very difficult, stressful and challenging. That's why, if you are going to stick to it, you really have to know the reason ‘why’ you are studying Law – beyond the amount of money you might be able to make, the social prestige you hope that comes with it, or just because you love Suits. Having a strong reason about why you want to be a lawyer, and having a great interest in the law and how the legal system works, will help get you through the tough and stressful times that will inevitably come with Law school.
“For me, the best moments are when I get a better than expected result for a client in a long and complex negotiation; when the client feels grateful and you know you gave it everything, that's the best feeling.”