From CUHK Campus Ambassador to Law Firm Summer Intern: How is it done?
Read my article on LinkedIn and watch my Campus Ambassador video here.
Editing my campus ambassador video with Final Cut Pro.
A question that most Hong Kong law students want to answer as they head towards the end of their law degree is deciding whether to pursue becoming a solicitor or barrister. It can be a confusing journey. Thus, I decided it was best to experience a variety of work environments to determine which pathway is right for me. As I had completed a mini pupillage before, I wanted to work for a law firm this summer. This is my journey.
What does a Campus Ambassador do?
Before my position as a summer intern with Ravenscroft & Schmierer, I was their campus ambassador at CUHK for one academic year. As a campus ambassador, I had the opportunity to represent the firm at CUHK. I held this position together with Jandy, a penultimate year law student at CUHK, who completed her internship with Ravenscroft & Schmierer last autumn. I was able to learn about the work environment and the people before my internship started. At first, I was slightly overwhelmed, as I had not seen any other firms in Hong Kong with campus ambassadors. This position is more common in the UK and at other European universities. Nonetheless, my experience as a campus ambassador has been nothing but fruitful.
“Besides being a point of contact for students, […] a campus ambassador markets any opportunities that the firm has to offer.”
Not only was the position as a campus ambassador a great way to expand my connections, but it also helped me gather what kind of questions students have for law firms. Besides being a point of contact for students, if the firm has any questions or information they wanted to pass on to the faculty, a campus ambassador would be the facilitator for such communication. Additionally, a campus ambassador markets any opportunities that the firm has to offer, hence further expanding connections. Therefore, the campus ambassador position is mutually beneficial, and a great opportunity for university students.
From Campus Ambassador to Summer Intern
I applied for a summer internship at Ravenscroft & Schmierer as my experience as a campus ambassador had been most welcoming. Additionally, having previously worked together, the working environment would be familiar. The summer internship position differs from the campus ambassador position, as a summer intern works full-time at the office and works on tasks to assist the firm internally. I was ecstatic when I received an offer as I had looked forward to work at the office.
I was expected to work beyond just the tasks assigned to an intern during a conventional legal internship. From my idea of a conventional internship, you would be given bundles to read and asked to write research memos. Each day may feel repetitive and mundane. I knew and expected Ravenscroft & Schmierer to be different. From drafting articles to video production, there were a variety of tasks. With this, I also knew I would be touching multiple areas of law and be offered to help with other tasks that were not directly related to law.
“I knew and expected Ravenscroft & Schmierer to be different. From drafting articles to video production, there were a variety of tasks.”
Banned from the office
I was not able to join the team at the office for the first week of my internship due to hotel quarantine. Because I travelled to Europe for a couple of weeks prior to my internship and caught covid right before my scheduled departure. As Hong Kong does not allow passengers who tested positive to board planes and requires inbound travellers to undergo one week of mandatory hotel quarantine, this delayed my arrival at the office. However, the team was very welcoming and accommodating to my circumstances, creating a smooth quarantine experience.
One of my first tasks during my hotel quarantine was to research and draft an article about the virtual asset regulatory regime in Hong Kong. As I had very little prior awareness of cryptocurrencies and the associated jargons, I found this task fresh and challenging. The research was the most challenging aspect of this task, due to the complex virtual asset theory and the necessity to understand its general theory and what it provides. Once I had acquired the basic knowledge of cryptocurrencies, the writing became a lot easier.
Working at the hotel room from quarantine.
My supervisor and I had daily meetings during my quarantine to touch base and guide my research. Furthermore, the resources shared about cryptocurrencies helped me immensely and strengthened my understanding on the topic at times where I felt lost. Moreover, I was invited to continue an article from a previous intern Chloe, giving me a sense of collaboration.
Additionally, I was also given the opportunity to create a video about my experience with the firm as a campus ambassador, a perfect chance to connect the campus ambassador position and the internship. Due to my previous experiences in cinematography and editing, the process of making the video was familiar. As my quarantine period started to come to an end, my excitement to be a part of the office grew bigger.
Into the office!
It may be due to having spent most of the past two years working or attending university from home, but it felt surreal to be back at an office. I was kindly greeted by the firm’s receptionist Catherine and given a friendly office tour by Michael, an associate at Ravenscroft & Schmierer. I felt welcomed from the first day, but there was no time to waste as I wanted to continue the tasks that I had been given during my hotel quarantine.
After all the administrative and technical briefings, I went straight to work and, over the following weeks, received a variety of tasks. What I found special about Ravenscroft & Schmierer was that interns were not assigned to a particular lawyer or department during their time at the firm. As there is always something to be done around the office, it excited me that every day I would be offered to help with different tasks.
Bundling with Vanisha for an upcoming trial.
During this internship, I explored various areas of law. Starting with the cryptocurrency article, I was then asked by Michael, one of the firm’s associates, to review and suggest changes on an outdated tenancy agreement. A few days later, I was invited to write a second article, about the proposed amendments to the Inland Revenue Ordinance concerning tax exemptions for offshore profits in Hong Kong. The topic of the second article was suggested by the firm’s litigation partner Anna, giving me the opportunity to deal with an area of law that I had never been exposed to.
Whilst researching, I came across concepts and jargon that I was unfamiliar with. A similar situation I had previously encountered with the cryptocurrency article. Moreover, Vanisha, one of the firm’s paralegals, invited me to bundle with her. Bundling is the process where lawyers paginate, index and arrange documents of a case into dozens of box files in good order. This allows hearings to proceed more quickly and facilitate the writing of judgments. This was unfamiliar to me, but nonetheless an insightful experience, as I got to see what goes on behind closed doors in preparation for court.
Networking with the German Chamber of Commerce
“One night after work, I was invited to attend a networking event, organised by the German Chamber of Commerce.”
It was a great opportunity to network with other professionals linked with the German community. Again, not in many internships will an intern receive an opportunity to network on this scale. I had fun as the room was buzzing with energy and had a chance to talk to people from different industries.
Attending a GCC (German Chamber of Commerce) event held at “Biergarten” in Hong Kong.
Do your research and follow up
As my time at the firm wrapped up, I had a few takeaways. Firstly, for my future internship applications, I would remind myself that standing out in a positive way is one of the most important elements in landing an offer. Ravenscroft & Schmierer receives hundreds of applications each internship season and not be forgotten is one of the most important things. Even if you aren’t a current campus ambassador, there are plenty of ways to be remembered in a good light, such as calling to ask about your application, sending short and professional follow-up emails (but not spamming!) or attending their events regularly to become a familiar face. This way, you can better understand the firm and build a professional relationship with its people. This way, I believe my chances of winning an internship offer will be much higher.
My time at the firm can be described in many words – fun, challenging, or even stressful but if I had to describe my experience here in Korean, I would say: 의미 있는 시간을 보내고 갑니다 (uimi issneun sigan-eul bonaego gabnida). Which in English means: “I’m leaving after spending a meaningful time here.”
Alice Kim is an incoming penultimate year LLB student at CUHK (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) and, after representing Ravenscroft & Schmierer as a CUHK campus ambassador, completed her internship with the firm from July to August 2022.
Watch the video about her time as a Campus Ambassador here.