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Summer Clerk Diary: Genevieve McManamey, Hicksons

UTS law student Genevieve McManamey has spent her summer clerking at Hicksons. From early morning train rides and managing client queries to playing basketball in a partner’s office, here is Genevieve’s take on her summer clerk experience.

After the celebrations that followed the 9am phone call from the HR Manager offering me a spot in the Hicksons Summer Clerk Program, I couldn’t help but stop for a second and ask myself, “What have you got yourself into?!”

I’m not going to lie, I spent a good part of the two months leading up to the start of my clerkship living in fear – fear that I had learnt nothing at uni, that I would be hopeless, and worst of all, that I wouldn’t fit in. After a sleepless night, a long, restless, early train-ride into the city and an intense pep talk from the HR Manager – “This is not a 9-5 job!” – I was introduced to my first practice group.

Now, I’m not going to fool you into believing that once I sat down at my desk and immersed myself in my first task that all my fears vanished, because they didn’t. With my first brief in hand, I sat at my desk wondering why it would be a good idea to put a law student with no business background, and an academic record that displayed my less than impressive Corporate Law score, in the Corporate/Commercial team.

However, fear not! My hot tip for any prospective summer clerks out there is this: There is nothing, and I mean nothing, you cannot learn on the job! My supervising partner and his team of solicitors and associates were not only impressive lawyers, they were also amazing teachers. With their guidance, it was only a matter of time before I was confidently completing research, advices and letters, and reviewing and drafting contracts. One particular highlight was a tax advice that I was given responsibility to research, draft and then relay to the client in a teleconference. While I was supervised by my partner, he gave me the chance to show how much I had learnt and to try my hand at managing a client query on my own.

Working in the office was not the only thing I did. I attended the district court, mediations and arbitrations where I was able to observe the dispute resolution process and meet with the firm’s clients and other professionals. After a few visits to the court you will find that you are no longer the random summer clerk tag-along, but that people will actually recognise you and greet you! You certainly feel more a part of the industry when someone will stop and say “Hi Genevieve, nice you see you back here again!”

There is no doubt that the size of Hicksons lends itself to a great diversity of work, reputable clients and exposed me to new areas of the law that I had never considered. While the clerkship was a steep learning curve (because let’s face it, what do we learn at uni?) I found that every partner, solicitor, associate and special counsel knew my name and was ready, willing and able (mind the bad law joke) to help me out.

Hard work aside, the firm has a great social ethos. The atmosphere is not one in which you could hear a pin drop. Solicitors were always chatting about this and that and the partners were always up for some banter. We even had the odd round of office basketball – in a partner’s office. The clerk cohort was extremely close as we celebrated every high and low together. We were welcomed into the firm’s netball team and certainly enjoyed some fun times at Friday night drinks and the firm Christmas party.

All in all my clerkship at Hicksons was an invaluable experience that I will never forget!

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