Lawyer Caley Catto helps clients through challenging periods

Jul 27, 2023 | Latest News and Events

 The Job

I am a Senior Associate at Panetta McGrath Lawyers in Perth. I specialise in criminal defence law and health law. My clients include people charged with a range of criminal offences, as well as health practitioners facing allegations of poor performance or conduct. I am based at our offices on St Georges Terrace, and regularly appear in magistrates Courts across Perth, the District Court, and the State Administrative Tribunal. My day-to-day is filled with going to court, meetings with clients, meeting with colleagues, reading briefs of evidence, drafting letters and documents, and multiple coffee breaks.

The Path

I have wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember. I have distinct memories of playing with Barbies and my character was always off to work as a lawyer in her pink Corvette (cringeworthy but true). After completing Year 12m I took a gap year and had a change of heart, instead enrolling in Bachelor of Interior Architecture (Honours) at Curtin University. Towards the end of my bachelor degree, I felt as though I had made a mistake and couldn’t see myself working in that field, so I applied to the Juris Doctor at the University of Western Australia (UWA). The Juris Doctor is a postgraduate degree, meaning you need to have completed an undergraduate degree to apply. Thankfully, my bachelor degree from Curtin counted towards entry and I had not thrown away four years of hard work! While it was daunting to be facing such a drastic change in direction, it was the right choice for me. It is incredibly difficult to choose a career path straight out of Year 12 and get it right.

I had an interest in criminal law from the get-go at law school. I also had some close friends already working as criminal lawyers who gave me valuable insight into the job and encouragement. In my last year at UWA, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Tom Percy KC, who offered me a full-time job as his law clerk and gave me a start in criminal defence. Once I completed the Juris Doctor and my Practical Legal Training program, I was admitted to the Supreme Court and commenced practising as a lawyer. I worked solely in criminal defence for four years as both a lawyer and law clerk, before wanting to learn a new area of law. Moving to Panetta McGrath Lawyers has given me the opportunity to start building my skills in health law alongside my criminal defence practice.

The Good

I truly enjoy working closely with my clients to help them though challenging periods of their lives. Being charged with a criminal offence is often the “wake-up call” that some clients need to completely change their path in life. It is incredibly rewarding to be able to achieve a good outcome for a client and assist in their journey. Other clients will find themselves the subject of false allegation and I take great pride in being their voice while they navigate the justice system.

I have also met so many wonderful friends, mentors, and colleagues within the legal profession. I have built a great support network of people who continue to play a huge part in both my personal life and in shaping my professional development.

The Bad

It is definitely not a 9.00am – 5.00pm job. Work-life balance can be hard at times there are “high stakes” as a defence lawyer. There can be serious and life-changing consequences for people charged with criminal offences.

The Future

While I am settled in my current role, law is an incredibly varied profession. Not only are there many practice areas to possibly gain experience in , but you can work in private practice, for government departments, as an in-house lawyer for a large companies, or as a barrister, to name a few. I personally plan on maintaining a practice specialising in criminal defence, and look forward to continuing to work alongside experienced mentors, colleagues, and barristers on interesting and challenging matters.

The GenWest Article can be found here