LEGALLY BLONDE

THERE’S NOTH­ING FUNNY ABOUT THE LAW – BUT THAT DIDN’T STOP FOR­MER CO­ME­DIAN CORINNE GRANT FROM TAK­ING A CHANCE ON REIN­VENT­ING HER­SELF

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy ALEX COPPEL Words CAROLYNNE MAR­SHALL

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”

HOLD­ING COURT (clock­wise from above) Corinne Grant has swapped com­edy for the court­room; with men­tors Matt Al­bert and Claire O’con­nor; farewelling The Glass House with Wil An­der­son and Dave Hughes in Rove Live with Rove Mcmanus and Peter Hel­liar.

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