Sydney University arts law student Sophie Barrow is another clerk who traded her summer in the sun (well, what little sun there was) for the chance to experience life in a law firm. Here is Sophie’s clerkship experience with DibbsBarker…
You’ve bought a suit, cut your hair to an acceptable length, attended cocktail nights, answered (and avoided) tricky questions, and received countless rejection emails. In amongst the emotional highs and lows of clerkship applications, it’s very easy to forget that if you are successful, the prize is this: working full time in the summer holidays. But fear not, Survive Law readers – this is not the sentence it sounds like.
“I’m Sophie… [silence]… the Summer Clerk.” After explaining the presence of the inexperienced 21 year old in the room, lawyers will usually sigh in acknowledgment and reflect on the heady days of being ‘the Summer Clerk’. The days when you were still learning, had little responsibility and your modus operandi was to try your best.
Still, a summer clerkship is a steep learning curve. Everything from negotiating casual Fridays, to elevator etiquette, to recording my time posed its unique challenges. Fortunately there was a solid support network of supervisors and ‘buddies’ (usually graduate lawyers whose clerkship is still fresh in their memory) to answer my more seemingly obvious questions.
At DibbsBarker, instead of doing separate rotations in chosen practice groups, my colleagues and I have worked for every practice group in the firm. This means there was a great deal of variety in day-to-day work. Because we were not working underneath one partner or for only one group, it could be construction law in the morning and intellectual property in the afternoon.
I have been involved in drafting various contracts for commercial clients, drafting correspondence, and researching aspects of law that are relevant to particular matters or transactions. The highlight, however, has been going along with partners and lawyers to attend court, mediation, and meetings with counsel and clients.
I was also able to do some pro bono work, which DibbsBarker does through the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service (HPLS). As only one of three clerks, it was fairly hands on from an early stage, with no shortage of work to do. This was ideal, though, as I now feel more equipped to make an informed decision about the area of law I wish to pursue.
Aside from the work aspect, my summer clerkship has been great fun. In between the firm Christmas party, the ‘friendly’ inter-firm sports competition, trivia and cruise nights, you could be forgiven for thinking – as some lawyers probably have – that we had been hired to have one big party. However, it has been a fantastic opportunity to meet people from other firms and share experiences, all while learning how the law is applied outside the lecture theatre.
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