I recently completed a summer clerkship at Herbert Geer in Sydney. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as this was my first exposure to commercial law in Australia.
Law Stuff that I’ve done
I was placed in the corporate practice group and was supported by a buddy, mentor (special counsel) and a supervising partner. I helped carry out the due diligence for a company listing on the National Stock Exchange, and completed a variety of tasks, including lodging forms at ASIC, recording minutes at a due diligence committee meeting, and searching international classes of trademarks registered by the client.
I also completed work for the Employment, Planning and Government (PGIE) and IP teams. In PGIE, I wrote a 12-page legal memorandum advising whether certain sections of the Civil Procedure Act 2005 applied to our client’s case. I was given feedback by the Senior Associate, which helped me learn about this complex area of law.
Fun, and the Rest of it
As Herbert Geer's largest Australian office is in Melbourne, the Sydney clerks travelled interstate for our induction. We shared a banquet at Red Spice Road with Herbert Geer Melbourne lawyers and chatted about our interests. I was also lucky enough to join our Corporate team lunch at The Malaya, and enjoyed the firm-wide 1920s themed-Christmas party.
I also took part in inter-firm sports, drinks and trivia night fun.
What have I Learned?
I found that the smaller team environment at the office provided excellent opportunities for professional development and training – I was given immediate responsibility and completed substantive legal work. From speaking with partners, I also found that work/life balance was achievable.
In Corporate I was taught to think from the perspective of the client to deliver the best commercial result rather than a 'legalistic' answer. I learnt that as a clerk I have not yet developed the level of legal drafting skills and knowledge of ASX Operating Rules or the Corporations Act that a qualified solicitor would have!
Being aware that you are not expected to know everything is important – one of the graduates' best pieces of advice was to just stay on top of procedural stuff and things you can control like submitting work on time. This shows initiative and will allow you to learn a lot 'on-the-job'.
Bob Liang is an Arts/Law student at the University of New South Wales.
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 | K&L Gates (Middletons) | King & Wood Mallesons | Linklaters | Marque Lawyers | Webb Henderson
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