Frederic Calinaud: A lawyer infusing his passion for acting with the courtroom

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Frederic Calinaud once aspired to be an actor. But instead of pursuing an acting career, he became a lawyer, presenting facts to defend the rights of his clients in court – a different type of performing stage where he is shining bright.

As an employment lawyer and founding partner of the French law firm, Calinaud David Avocats, Frederic spent a year in Australia before returning to Paris to attend the Paris Bar School, during which he undertook a three-month program at the University of Sydney and received a Certificate in Industrial Relations and the Law.

Putting his time in Australia to good use, Frederic also worked at the French General Consulate in Sydney and in a boutique law firm, and spent some four months travelling to experience the country.

Now based in Paris, Frederic not only is committed to growing his firm, he is also pursuing incredible feats in his personal life as part of the French Obstacle Course Racing team “Tr1be OCR Team”, taking part in Spartan races in France and abroad.

He recently spoke with Advance, sharing fond memories of his time Down Under and his work fostering ongoing business relationships between France and Australia.

Interview by Tammy Lee, Marketing & Communications Officer, Advance

Could you introduce your role at Calinaud David Avocats? What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I am one of the founding partners of the French law firm Calinaud David Avocats. I specialise in French Employment law and I manage the Employment team.

The most rewarding aspect of my job is the fact that I have long-term clients - clients whom I have worked with since the beginning of my career over 10 years ago. I guess they are satisfied with our work and our relationship!

Additionally, we have managed to build a great place to work, where, despite being stressful, our associates seem to be happy and enjoy what they do. We also have a strong team. My senior associate has been working with me since we started the firm. We are very proud of what we have achieved.

What made you choose to study in Australia? How was the experience?

After completing my Master in Employment Law in France, I took the Bar exam in Paris and was admitted to the Paris Bar School. But I decided to postpone my admission for one year in order to go to Australia.

I made use of the working holiday visa but when I first arrived in Sydney, I found it difficult to find a job as a French citizen. I was advised to consider enrolling in the Industrial Relations and Law certificate program at the University of Sydney, which I did. I took the three-month program consisting of weekly, two-hour night classes dedicated to people working in legal profession.

This program equipped me with a basic knowledge of  Australian employment law and helped me to understand how it was implemented in Australia. The course was very interesting and affordable for an international student. 

Albeit short, how has your Australian education experience helped to advance your career?

The experience definitely helped me to advance my English skills. Although I needed to highly concentrate in classes as they were conducted in English, it allowed me to learn new vocabulary and concepts which were crucial to my career development. Moreover, it helped me to connect with people globally in the same industry.

What motivated you to pursue a career in law?

I wanted to be an actor! Then I decided to find a more “secure” job, but I kept in mind that I needed a stage to express myself. The court is great for that and especially the employment court which in France, is one of the only courts where you have a chance to really present your case verbally. It is another way of acting!

What did you miss most about Australia?

I really enjoyed my time in Australia. I would have stayed if I could but I had to come back to France to finish my studies.

I miss the way of living, the weather and probably the landscapes which I had the chance to experience during my travel (I traveled for 4 months during that year).

However, my year in Australia also helped me to build my network.

I now work for a few Australian companies and the Australian government.

I worked on the MOU that was signed between the Paris Bar Association and the Law Society of New South Wales. I also worked on partnerships between the Paris Bar School and Australian universities.

In addition, I am the secretary of Australian Business in Europe France, an organisation that aims to organise events and provide networking opportunities for individuals and companies who have interests in Australia and French-Australian business.

As all these projects require a lot of travel and have given me the opportunity to continue to travel to Australia. It was my tenth time to Australia last October when I attended the International Bar Association Annual Conference in Sydney!

Could you share with us the best way to experience the real Paris that tourists often miss?

Get lost in the streets of Paris, in le Marais, or near the Notre Dame area, for instance. People can also participate in local events like sports events, outdoor cinema, or events on the banks of the Seine River.