THERE’S NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT THE LAW – BUT THAT DIDN’T STOP FORMER COMEDIAN CORINNE GRANT FROM TAKING A CHANCE ON REINVENTING HERSELF
Former comedian Corinne Grant’s new career as a lawyer.
For two decades, Corinne Grant made her mark on Australia’s entertainment landscape with a mix of razor-sharp wit and countrygirl charm. Stand-up comedian, performing artist, author, presenter, broadcaster and columnist are among the entries on a CV that exhibits both a wide range of interests and the absence of an aversion to risk.
But Grant’s latest gamble – swapping the spotlight of fame for the beacon of justice – has proven a particularly rewarding leap of faith for the 43-year-old.
Last month saw her complete this four-year transformation when she graduated from The University of Melbourne with a Juris Doctor law degree. Now employed as a graduate lawyer at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers in Melbourne’s CBD, Grant dedicates herself to helping clients navigate the highly complex – and particularly unfunny – issues around workplace injury law.
Grant is not one to look back wistfully on her action-packed days of skits, stunts and hijinks as an original cast member of Rove Live, and as a co-host of ABC’S The Glass House – she would rather stay focused on the equally
rewarding chapter ahead. “We are fortunate to live in an age where women can have not just one career, but two,” Grant tells Stellar. “I can be a lawyer for the next 25 years. It’s like living two lives in one.”
Most professional reboots are accompanied by a degree of trepidation, and it was no different for Grant. “My biggest fear was, ‘What if I make this big commitment, and I start and I don’t like it?’ But I squashed it down. And it was really only once I had [my current job] that the last few years flashed before my eyes. I was standing on a street corner about to cross the road, and it just struck me: ‘Oh my god, that was a risk!’”
She re-entered university as both a recognisable person of interest and a mature-age student, but Grant refused to keep a purposefully low profile. “People get over the celebrity thing quickly, but the being older thing was a bit of an issue. Some of the students felt that I was closer in age to their parents and treated me accordingly – which was a bit of a shock.”
In the end, Grant says her maturity did not hold her back. “That saying, that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, is completely wrong: the majority of a law degree [involves] teaching you to think in a different way. Your brain is really malleable. You can learn new things. I was surprised by how much I learnt in those three years [at university], and that I was capable of doing it and holding my own.”
Grant credits her successful diversification to guidance from her mentor, Victorian Bar luminary Matt Albert. But she also puts it down to a bit of old-fashioned soul searching. “It comes down to looking for [a career] that aligns with your values. I wanted to work surrounded by like-minded people, where I was intellectually challenged, where I got to work in a team and on projects. Those kinds of things informed the choice I made, as opposed to, ‘Being a lawyer sounds like a good idea.’”
Grant says she has always had a passion for social justice, and looked for ways to give back to her community. “There are many different parts of the law that appeal to me, but I realised very quickly as a trainee that [workplace injury law] ticked a lot of boxes. It’s complicated work, and I get to spend a lot of time with clients.”
In many ways, she experiences the same types of “wins” she achieved when she was in front of an audience. But Grant notes one important difference: “It’s very satisfying knowing you have done something towards a good outcome for someone else. [But] there is something more cumulative compared to the fleeting nature of performing. When you get a good outcome for a client, it’s their joy – and you get to share that.”
Speaking of joy, people – and given the seriousness of her new vocation, this includes Grant – still need a good laugh. So she has not fully turned her back on comedy. “I still do corporate MC work and will always want to have some kind of creative outlet, but law now comes first. Everything else has to fit in around that.”
For now, though, many of Grant’s clients recognise her as a former fixture on their TV screens when they meet her for the first time. “It’s weirder for them than for me – they must think they’re on Candid Camera for a minute,” she laughs. “Once a client knows I can relate to them, it’s fine. I grew up in a working-class family, so I identify with them. They are relieved I am ‘normal’, which may or may not be true. I think I am a normal person, but are any of us? Who knows...”
Just as she had that moment of reflection on the street corner, Grant admits she also finds herself stopping to take stock of what she has become: a qualified, full-time, fully fledged lawyer. “I’m still pinching myself. It’s only now I look back on it and think, ‘Wow, that actually kind of is a big achievement – for anyone,’” says Grant. “But,” she adds, “it is much easier to stand up in front of a judge, because a judge doesn’t get drunk and ask you to show them your boobs!”
“IT’S WEIRDER FOR MY CLIENTS THAN IT IS FOR ME – THEY MUST THINK THEY’RE ON CANDID CAMERA FOR A MINUTE”