We have been summer clerks at Webb Henderson’s Auckland office since November, and are loving every moment of the experience.
Unlike some of the major law firms, there are no formal rotations through Webb Henderson’s practice areas. Rather, the journey has been very dynamic and the approach is to get “hands on” experience with work across the board during our three-month clerkship. Our workload is often a mix of areas, from telecommunications to media, energy to corporate advisory. The work that we have been involved with ranges from answering competition law questions to redrafting clauses in a contract.
A highlight of the summer clerk experience has definitely been the opportunity to work at the firm’s Sydney office for a week. While the Australia vs New Zealand jokes will always fly around the office, it was great to meet the Sydney-based summer clerks and lawyers, as well as getting to work with some of the Sydney office’s biggest clients. Webb Henderson’s regulatory consultancy arm is based in Sydney, and the summer clerks were put in charge of putting together the first draft of a document on strategies that governments from around the world have used to build their national broadband infrastructure.
There are some unique aspects to working in a specialist international practice. The international dimension of the firm means that there are few differences between the four cities that Webb Henderson is based in, as lawyers are often travelling from office to office and working on international projects. We also learned to be very proactive about our learning, as you only need to put your hand up to open new doors and learning opportunities. Working with issues in a foreign jurisdiction can also be challenging – not only do you have to deal with legal documents in a foreign language but often you have to learn the structure of a completely different legal system from scratch.
A challenging aspect of the summer was having our work read and reviewed directly by the partners, and, on the odd occasion, having that work then presented to a client. Sometimes we found ourselves to be the “it” person for a particular legal issue, which meant that we had to be very thorough with our research and understanding of the law. There is a lot of responsibility and trust placed on the summer clerks which, although a bit scary at first, has been very rewarding and a great learning experience.
Although the firm is growing very fast, it is still a relatively tight-knit group of lawyers. While the same will apply to any firm, the people that you work with makes a big difference in a smaller office. The Auckland office is very cosy, and everyone is very supportive of our transition from law school to the real world of legal practice.
Overall the experience has been an overwhelmingly positive one. The relatively informal structure of the clerkship means that you really get to take your summer experience into your own hands. We’ve been able to contribute to some big projects and look forward to clocking up more frequent flier miles in the future!
Alice and Joshua are arts/law students at the University of Auckland.
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 | K&L Gates (Middletons) | King & Wood Mallesons | Linklaters | Marque Lawyers
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