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Summer Clerk Diary: Cameron Ritchie, Middletons


It’s clerkship season again and summer clerks from around Australia will be sharing their work experiences in Survive Law’s annual Summer Clerk Diary series.

Today Cameron Ritchie, an Arts/Law student from the University of Tasmania offers a sneak peek into his summer clerkship at Middletons…

I recently spent four weeks in the offices of Middletons (soon to be K&L Gates) in Melbourne. With no prior experience in a law job, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but my clerkship was challenging and rewarding, and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Law stuff that I’ve done

I was lucky to clerk in the litigation department with the intellectual property team. Middletons' diverse client base meant there was always something really interesting to work on, and I did a wide variety of practical work, which included writing a statutory declaration of evidence of use of a trade mark, and drafting a letter and a Federal Court order. I also got to attend court for various matters, and assist with research in large litigation.

Fun, and the rest of it

My clerkship coincided with the beginning of the festive season, and there really isn’t a more fun time to clerk! The annual graduate revue was a special highlight of the firm Christmas party, and the seasonal clerks stunned and dazzled the firm with a Gangnam Style flashmob.

Back at the office, we regularly met up with our graduate buddies to share our experiences. Some of those stories involved accidentally getting locked in the staircase after hours and having to walk down 25 floors of stairs. That almost happened to me, which made it a lot funnier.

What have I learned?

Law is a people-driven profession, so it’s important to be enthusiastic about what you do and what others around you do, and to demonstrate that you can communicate well with others in any context. Put a lot of effort into the tasks you get, and make your conclusions clear.

I also discovered that sometimes there isn’t an answer to the research question you’ve been asked. While we spend our time at law school learning about the questions that have already been answered, it’s all training for when you’ll be asked questions you can’t easily answer. I learned very quickly that if you’ve done hours of research and can’t find a clear answer, there probably isn’t one, and your best efforts are more than sufficient.

There is so much we all are yet to learn about the law and about practice. As lawyers, we never stop learning. Research skills really are the most important thing you learn at uni. CaseBase and I are extremely well acquainted now!

Read more clerkship stories from our 2012/13 Summer Clerk Diary series:

Anthony R Clarke & Associates | Australian Taxation Office | The Benevolent Society | Cancer Council Legal and Financial Planning Referral Service | Champion Legal | Herbert Geer | King & Wood Mallesons | Linklaters | Marque Lawyers | Webb Henderson

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