UNSW law student Eva Lee spent her summer clerking with Minter Ellison in Sydney and discovered that there is more to a clerkship than meets the eye…
I had heard all the stories about summer clerkships – I had read every blog, trawled every website and quizzed every grad I had ever met.
I knew that a clerkship was my chance to peek inside corporate Australia. I knew that it was my chance to see some of the best legal minds at work. I knew that it was an opportunity to finish five years of study and have a job to go to. But the best experiences of my clerkship were the ones I didn’t know about:
You actually do meaningful work
I started my first rotation in HR/IR prepared to be the coffee girl and photocopier extraordinaire. Oh, how wrong I was. Within a couple of hours of meeting the team, my supervising partner gave me instructions to research recent amendments to NSW OH&S laws and write an advice for a client. My advice was sent to the client the next day. On my third day, I was sitting in on client meetings and attending court. Now, at the end of my clerkship, I have written a memo of advice to Minter Ellison’s General Counsel about laws that will change the firm’s procedures for witnessing documents.
Don’t get me wrong – I have done my fair share of photocopying – but I am amazed at the amount of ‘real’ legal work that I have assisted with during my clerkship.
Partners are real people too
I have a guilty secret: I used to be afraid of partners. To me, they looked so busy and important and serious. But it didn’t take me long to realise that, although this is sometimes true, partners also want to get to know you and they want to help you learn. One supervising partner even made me flashcards to explain how superannuation funds are structured! Sometimes though, partners just want to talk about 14 hour train trips to Melbourne, holiday plans for next year or their attempts at cooking barbequed ribs. And that’s pretty cool.
I have really enjoyed working in an environment where everyone can (and does) have a laugh, and where partners, lawyers and clerks banter over a beer at Friday night drinks.
You will establish a special bond with your fellow clerks
Sitting next to my fellow clerks on our first day of training, I looked around at them with curiosity. I wondered what these people with shiny shoes and sharp suits would be like. Thanks to a jam-packed social calendar and an intensive first week of training, it didn’t take me long to find out. It’s hard not to bond with the other clerks when you go to lawn bowls, karaoke, trivia, Yum Cha, drinks, Christmas parties and cruises together. And when you team up for a scavenger hunt around the city, things really start to get hilarious.
My clerkship has introduced me to a bunch of people that are diverse, funny, crazy and intelligent. I can’t wait to work with them in the future.
My summer clerkship gave me everything that I anticipated when I began at Minters in December. But it also gave me some valuable opportunities and experiences that went above and beyond my initial expectations.
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