With lockdowns and tier systems rotating like rain clouds, restricting where we can go, and consequently law firms operating remotely, many things have changed. What remains unchanged, though, is that as young people interested in law our focus is still to have a better understanding of the sector and, ultimately, to ensure we are best placed to secure a training contract. Because of this clash, many of us have struggled with how to improve our situation despite the bottlenecking of experience opportunities. For me, participating in the Bright Network’s Internship Experience UK On-Demand Commercial Law track this winter was one solution to this as it enabled me to advance myself and my legal journey despite the pandemic.
Why was Internship Experience UK a good fit for you?
For context, I graduated from King’s College London with a BA in English Literature in September 2020. I am currently working part-time for a think tank, The Pinsker Centre, which I first encountered as a student through events at University of London campuses. It focusses on cultivating discussion about UK and international affairs amongst students nationwide, and my role is both a managerial and a content editorial one. I am simultaneously building my experience and knowledge about the legal sector so that I can be an informed applicant for opportunities.
Like many recent graduates, I entered the spacey, inconsistent pandemic environment. An environment in which firms have been often forced to cancel lined up opportunities or postpone them indefinitely, one in which work experience and job options are currently slimmer, as law firms (along with everyone else) cannot plan for the future as they normally would. Given that this is an experience so many people know well, regardless of whether someone’s context is similar to mine or not, the reasons I undertook Internship Experience UK are likely to align with their situation, as will its beneficial impact.
What motivated you to apply for Internship Experience UK?
For me, the reasons for applying were threefold:
- The market-leading law firms partnering on the scheme – Allen & Overy, Clyde & Co, Herbert Smith Freehills, Sidley Austin and Slaughter and May – some of which I had a prior interest in applying to.
- The flexible structure of watching the recorded training/educational sessions which are available 'on-demand’ and then submitting everything for the corporate law work sample any time prior to the end of the programme. I knew I could do all my work both on and off the programme without taking time off or sacrificing quality.
- The fact that there is feedback at the end of the programme and an exemplar work sample meant that I knew I would get feedback to bear in mind for when I am given tasks in the future by law firms.
What skills/knowledge did you gain?
Through completing Internship Experience UK, I obtained and developed both general legal skills and knowledge about specific sectors and how to engage with them. For example, my legal communication abilities improved through the sessions on ‘Legal Drafting’ (Herbert Smith Freehills) and ‘Legal & Business Research’ (Allen & Overy) and implementing that knowledge to meet the requirements of the project. I had to convey the M&A processes to a fictional client with minimal legalese and to evaluate the best dispute resolution method for a specific scenario and write an advice note on it. I now have better legal judgement when deciding how to present information and how much detail to go into for communications to clients or legal supervisors. I also have knowledge about where to find the necessary resources to evaluate legal arguments. Another task I particularly enjoyed and benefited from was marking up a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). I have always paid attention to detail, but it was definitely an ability I honed when ensuring all the points of law were up to date in the contract as well as ensuring the wording had the intended meaning and correcting formatting mistakes or spelling errors. This assignment is also strong preparation for the proof-reading tasks that firms often use as part of their recruitment process.
Gaining insight from experts at Clyde & Co, Sidley Austin and Slaughter and May about regulatory work, global investigations and M&A work meant that I was exposed to fields that I had not had the chance to explore before. Applying what I was taught to the assigned tasks - like coming up with due diligence factors and questions, or presenting the stages of an acquisition process - meant that it was transformed from passive knowledge to experience in those fields.
Would you recommend Internship Experience UK to students and graduates?
Having completed Internship Experience UK, I am now armed with more developed skills and experience examples for future applications, which are both useful to any aspiring lawyer. The tasks were really interesting and are suitable for both those who have studied law and those who have not, as the informational sessions guide the participant and research is needed by everyone. Therefore, whether someone is only beginning to be interested in law, is an LLM graduate, a paralegal or at a different stage, the framework and tasks are likely to suit them. Additionally, because organisation, time management and other transferrable skills are needed and improve on the programme, participants do not just gain insight into the culture of the firms involved or legal-specific skills but also skills useful to any industry.