4 Weeks, 1 Internship: My Legal Summer Journey
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A day in the life of a solicitor is highly repetitive. Formulated. Simply following the client’s instructions with no autonomy at work. A legal intern would be stuck in the office all day doing simple administrative work. This was my previous impression.
My latest internship revealed the reality. My impression was incorrect. Being a solicitor is much more than just preparing bundles. Rather, it involves comprehensive care and attention that is given to each individual client and is reflected in tailor-made documents.
My fellow interns (from left to right): Karen Chan, Shirley Ng, and Ashley Chan.
Within my short month at Ravenscroft & Schmierer, I was handed a large variety of tasks. I was taught how to draft different legal documents such as wills, notarial certificates, and tenancy agreements. Rather than simply giving me a template and asking me to amend details, both the firm’s founder, David Ravenscroft and associate Julian Tam exhaustively taught me how to tailor them for every client’s needs as clients might be flexible with their instructions.
I was involved in a direct phone call with both the landlord and tenant confirming the details regarding the tenancy agreements and made amendments accordingly. This made my work satisfying as I was given the responsibility and opportunity to offer solutions for their urgent needs with efficiency, and I never imagined an intern would be given an opportunity to do so.
More specifically, I have gained exposure to the entire procedure of residential tenancies: from contacting the clients, drafting the agreements, to filing for stamp duty. I expect this whole practice to be important throughout my career because it is not something that can simply be learned from textbooks – it is something that truly needs to be experienced in practice.
Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road. Home to the District Court and Family Court.
Additionally, I assisted Mr. Julian Tam, the assistant solicitor for his court hearings, something that I have always looked forward to. During my second week, I followed Julian to the District Court for the application of a Garnishee Order Absolute. A Garnishee Order is a procedure whereby a judgment creditor may enforce the judgment by attaching a debt owed to the debtor by a third party. Once a debt is attached, the third party must pay his debt to the creditor.
The proceeding was concise and lasted for only about 10 minutes. I have gained a deeper understanding of the court process, and simply how the procedure of applying for a Garnishee Order works. Julian was very patient and invested time to explain the relevant laws and procedures in detail - if the debtor has money in a bank account, a garnishee order will direct the bank to pay the money over to the creditor - as well as some know-how of court hearings: address the judge in a formal manner, be fully prepared with all the bundles, and be ready to revise and edit necessary documents.
View from the office over Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour.
I also found Ravenscroft & Schmierer to be an inclusive workplace where individual efforts are always recognised and valued. After I assisted a case with the handling lawyers, my hard work was fully appreciated when they commended me on my efforts. Meanwhile, all my fellow colleagues are very helpful, resourceful, and encouraging.
At first, I was clueless about my role and anxious that I might not be up to standard. However, Vanisha Babani (Litigation Paralegal) has assisted me with exhaustive efforts by teaching me hand by hand about the internal firm and court procedures. She also shared with me her experience as an intern. This helped build up my confidence and prepared me for various challenges.
It was immensely rewarding to be able to see some of the things I learned at law school come to life in practice. Since practice is a different ball game altogether. There is a certain academic slant in school, where the focus is on legal arguments or reforming the law etc. Yet, this academic approach is such a narrow reflection of the work of a lawyer. Much of practice – or what little of it I have seen thus far – is about precision, timing, and deploying the correct strategy in reaching desired solutions.
This sort of experience is crucial in integrating theory with real-life application – having studied law for 3 years, I am already quite familiar with various legal procedures and court proceedings. But coming to a law firm and seeing it in practice is a much greater undertaking. This substantially increased my appreciation of the legal industry. I am thankful for this open door.
Michael has recently graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and completed his Internship at Ravenscroft & Schmierer from May 2021 until June 2021.