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Summer Clerk Diary: Ashleigh Alt, McCullough Robertson

Ashleigh Alt

Clerkship season is here again, and summer clerks across Australia will be sharing their work experiences in Survive Law’s annual Summer Clerk Diary series.

Today Ashleigh Alt from Griffith University shares her clerkship experience at McCullough Robertson…

At the end of 2013, I was given the opportunity of employment as a vacation clerk at McCullough Robertson, Queensland’s largest law firm.

Week One

My first day at MCR started with an introductory session with the other vacation clerks and a networking morning tea with the firm’s graduate lawyers and our supervisor for the duration of our tenure at the firm. This preceded three days of training involving the firm’s IT and filing systems, library and database training. Following training, I joined my practice group, Corporate Advisory. My skill development and legal knowledge was immediately tested. Every morning, from 8:30am, there was an overview of each of the firm’s practice groups. I found these sessions to be really informative, as we didn’t have a lot of exposure to the practice groups other than our own and these sessions helped to identify where else we may want to eventually practice.

Week Two

This week involved attending AGMs, the Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic in Brisbane’s West End and the McCullough Robertson Brisbane office Christmas Party. An extra session that was available for the clerks to attend was on etiquette and social skills, i.e. name badges, shaking of hands, cutlery use and alcohol consumption as well as how to approach an already established group at a social function - perfect timing with the Christmas Party at the end of the week!

The Christmas Party was a great opportunity to get to know other members of the firm in a less formal setting – I found that I was able to meet people from a broad range of practice groups that I would not have normally had the opportunity to meet in a firm of over 400 people!

Attending the Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic was eye opening and so beneficial from a student point of view. I saw the process that was employed in interacting with disadvantaged members of the community and I was able to try my hand at explaining legal jargon in layman’s terms. I really enjoyed the afternoon and would definitely attend again if the opportunity arises!

Week Three

This week I assisted with performing due diligence, ‘background checks’ on companies and directors as well as small research tasks and the proofreading of documents. I was introduced to data rooms – online sites where parties to a matter can upload and download documents needed to perform such tasks as due diligence.

Week Four

This was my last week at McCullough Robertson. I had my first experience filling out ASIC forms and attending the ASIC offices in Brisbane. I also completed more proofreading and due diligence this week. I found the process of putting together a due diligence report to be really interesting. All the different processes that go into producing a report that is hundreds of pages long and something that our client is relying on to make a fully informed decision with the best outcome for their company was really satisfying. Even though I had only helped out on a small part of the report, I got to see all the effort that went into the final product.

Tips for Future Clerks

Make friends with the people you’re working with! The vacation clerks would all go to lunch together most days and we usually found ourselves meeting in the firm kitchen for coffee, breakfast and a quick catch-up before work started. I have fond memories of walking around in the sweltering Queensland sun along the Brisbane waterfront in search of a restaurant that could accommodate all of us at lunchtime! Having regular contact with the other clerks strengthened our bond as a group, and we were able to ask each other for help and advice, as well hear about the range of work that everyone was doing.

My clerkship expanded my legal knowledge, allowed me to develop valuable professional relationships, taught me skills for the workplace, and provided a wonderful insight into life working at a law firm.

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