I walked into the shiny foyer full of trepidation. Impressively dressed men and women waltzed into the elevators with a sense of purpose. They all carried excessively large cups of coffee. I wasn’t going to fit in here with these people. I can’t stand coffee. With the nerves just about strangling me, I resigned myself to the fact that if I was completely hopeless I could pop into the chocolate manufacturer’s offices that were conveniently located a few floors below Shine Lawyers.
I took the elevator up to level nine, and found myself waiting alongside two other girls from my uni. It was comforting to know we were all in this together. Inexperienced, jubilant, and curious as to what this law gig was all about. This was my first time doing anything remotely legal that didn’t involve acquaintances asking me how to secure them a Section 10 bond for speeding offences (note to everybody: legal advice isn’t free and technically I’m not qualified yet).
Typical law geek aspects of my personality were very present at this point. There was basically a running commentary in my head shouting, “OH LOOK, REAL LAWYERS!”, “PRETTY STATIONERY!”, and “RATIO DECIDENDI”, and wondering if I should have considered another career.
Thankfully, my supervisor walked out a few moments later to greet me and I started to calm down slightly. I would be working in Shine’s Disaster Insurance Recovery unit, which formed part of its Social Justice department. I remember thinking when I received the placement that I had absolutely no idea what Disaster Insurance Recovery could entail, and that for all I knew it could be the most boring aspect of the law of all time. Luckily, it wasn’t.
“So what does Disaster Insurance Recovery involve?”, you ask. I was responsible for looking into whether or not insurance policies were applicable in situations like the Queensland floods, and other natural disasters like Cyclone Yasi and bush fires. I can safely say that the best lessons I learnt in this placement were all extremely practical: read the fine print, be careful what you are signing up for, and ensure you shop around for insurance as not all policies are going to benefit you equally should disaster strike.
Typical days involved case law and legislative research, drafting case notes, summarising insurance policies, and my all-time favourite was watching CCTV footage of a commercial building being flooded in the Queensland floods to determine whether the damage could be covered under the insurance policy.
And so, 13 weeks rolled by in a blur. The first four weeks involved me panicking constantly that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Somewhere around week six I got the feeling that it wasn’t so terrifying and I actually knew how to write a memorandum and draft a recommendation to my supervisor on potential action. By week 13 I was truly sad to be leaving.
I found Shine to be a truly supportive learning environment. The people I worked with were friendly and always willing to share their knowledge, there were birthday cakes aplenty, and the firm even had a nifty Xbox room for relaxation (I was too busy to play). All in all, I couldn’t have been happier with my first internship experience.
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