No social life as a Hong Kong Solicitor? An internship experience at Ravenscroft & Schmierer
During my summer holidays in Hong Kong, I interned at Ravenscroft & Schmierer. This provided me with an opportunity to grow and understand more of how a law firm operates.
A twist from the stereotype
On my first day, I had the firm’s employee manual and compliance policies immaculately placed on my desk. Jan-Patrik, my supervisor, asked me to read them meticulously and let him know if anything was unclear. Upon thorough reading of the documents, I fervently enjoyed their colourful and engaging layouts as well as the simple language and understood, why I was advised to give particular attention to the manuals when I was handed my first task – to help review them and continue drafting an updated version for the firm. Without any prior knowledge of compliance manuals and policies, I was puzzled at first. However, my colleagues were glad to provide me with guidance and resources. It was undoubtedly a precious experience as I became familiar with how to digest and encapsulate information into simplified and understandable vocabulary for more efficient work.
My desk on the first day of work
The hectic morning ended with a warm welcoming lunch with my fellow intern, Sharon, a Hongkonger studying German law near Frankfurt. Despite being a fresh face to the firm, the team was welcoming towards us. We joined fellow staff members of the firm for lunch where I was able to introduce myself and share with them my experiences in London. The amicable environment relieved me of my worries and motivated me to continue with my work enthusiastically.
Several weeks beforehand, some of my fellow LSE (London School of Economics and Political Science) students told me daunting stories about working overtime, all-nighters and weekends at big law firms and I was often asked by friends and family, whether this applied to me as well during my internship. I understand that at times overtime work, including during weekends, may be required at Ravenscroft & Schmierer, although I have not experienced it myself.
Practical know-how through article preparation
Having already acquired the experience of working on compliance policies on my first day, I ventured through the proposed amendment to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance Bill that was recently tabled in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. Thanks to this, it was easier for me to pick up the content. By finalising an article drafted by our litigation partner Anna Lau, not only did I learn more about virtual assets but also acquired practical knowledge on how to make an engaging article to retain the readers’ attention. To do so, I applied a Q&A style to enhance interactions. I believe that practical skills such as this could only be acquired through handling pragmatic scenarios during an internship.
Another article I worked on was about gig workers’ labour rights in Hong Kong. Researching foreign labour legislation with Erica, a trainee solicitor at the firm, I discovered the inadequacy of gig workers’ protection in Hong Kong alongside its ambiguous definition in law. As information about the gig economy flocks over the internet, it was also a handy skill to learn how to distil and summarise research into a comprehensive article. I ardently enjoyed fact-checking different online sources which further stimulated my critical thinking skills.
Legal research - an endless journey?
One of the most remarkable tasks I completed was conducting research on solicitors’ rights to operate a separate business. This was a case concerning potential conflicts of interest in law firms when operating a separate services company, which was assigned to me by Michael, an associate solicitor at the firm. Having read the Hong Kong Solicitors’ Guide on Professional Conduct during my previous mini-pupillage, it was a lot easier for me to handle the research. Though the case searching process was like seeking a needle in a haystack, it was certainly invaluable to learn about the different rules that a professional solicitor has to comply with and pay attention to.
One of my research resources - The Hong Kong Solicitors’ Guide on Professional Conduct
Away from the law and cases
Aside from legal work, I took part in an internship video production with Sharon. This was my first time creating a public YouTube video from the planning stage all the way to publishing. Brainstorming ideas for the video in our first meeting, we realised that it was not as straightforward as we thought to make an engaging video while maintaining professionalism. In contrast to shooting a personal vlog, filming on behalf of a firm requires higher attention upon the language used as well as the content choices. We had to constantly keep our target audience in mind.
My first public YouTube video
I realised how much I had already adapted to the environment of the UK, until I was asked to answer questions we were going to elaborate on in the video - sharing about the biggest cultural shock I have experienced. I recalled all the overthinking I had prior to moving to London, yet fortunately, they have been alleviated through unnoticeable changes I have made progressively throughout the year. Sometimes I still have second thoughts about whether studying abroad was the right decision, but then I think of all the special personal as well as professional benefits it has offered me throughout the past year, and realise it was well worth the trip.
Moving on to my role as an LSE Campus Ambassador
Upon completing my internship at Ravenscroft & Schmierer, I will continue my role as an LSE Campus Ambassador for the firm in my penultimate year. My time here has offered me a deeper understanding of Ravenscroft & Schmierer’s internal operations as well as how the firm digests original content and information that will be published in the future. This has given leverage to my skill sets and will also allow me to deliver assistance to fellow schoolmates at the LSE. If you have any questions, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and I will do my best to help you.
Sapphire Wong is currently a penultimate LLB student studying at the LSE (London School of Economics and Political Science). She completed her internship at Ravenscroft & Schmierer from August to September 2022 and will represent the firm as a Campus Ambassador at the LSE during the 2022/23 academic year. Watch her internship video with Sharon here.