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Reading books, writing assignments and passing exams reflect a major part of a student’s life. The theoretical knowledge obtained through our undergraduate degrees allows us to strengthen the foundations of our academics, but is that enough to survive in the real world?
After finishing my law degree, I went straight ahead and enrolled myself into a postgraduate programme. I obtained practical knowledge by applying the theoretical knowledge to hypothetical cases, learnt about the court procedures of Australia by drafting court documents and the process involved in transferring properties. You may ask: Was that adequate practical training? I say, absolutely, but still not the best way to learn and apply your knowledge. What is the ideal way then?
I realised that the most effective method are internships in a law firm, where you will be involved with actual clients. So, I started applying for internships at firms in Hong Kong once I completed my Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from Australia. While there were limited job opportunities during these unprecedented times, I was lucky enough to secure an internship at Ravenscroft & Schmierer. That was my initial step of transitioning from a student to a professional.
The best way to make the most of your internship is to take every chance or opportunity that comes your way, be it a legal task or an administrative one. It is important to remember that every little step from filing, printing, scanning to more substantial legal work involving research and drafting is an essential part of a law firm and for one to learn at an early stage of their careers. Similarly, I kept a positive mindset, which allowed me to gain insights into the internal operations of managing a law firm. Besides that, I was given the opportunity to learn about the accounting procedures of the firm and how our clients’ funds are handled. Most importantly, this internship allowed me to further build up my connections and network with professionals in the legal field.
The legal aspect of my internship exposed me to different areas of practices, helping me comprehend the various procedures involved. From reading up case files to attending court hearings on third-party applications such as, garnishee orders and Norwich Pharmacal orders, to drafting the court order after the hearing, helped me not only understand the crux of the case but also, experience the different stages of the matter. In distinction to court procedures, I was also given tasks such as, analysing a petitioner’s financial statement in a divorce proceeding to draft the respondent’s questionnaire and identify specific transactions for asset tracing purposes for another matter. Additionally, I got to be involved in the discovery stage for a contractual agreement between two companies. Furthermore, I conducted research and learnt about handling cyber fraud cases in Hong Kong and Singapore, trademarks registration in Hong Kong, as well as drafting documents in relation to Notice to Act, Acknowledgement of Service and bills to provide to clients. Besides that, I was given the opportunity to draft a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement for the firm.
The work I have been involved with throughout my internship program has allowed me to apply my theoretical and practical knowledge obtained through my education and has helped me better understand the practices of a solicitor. I am sincerely grateful for the internship experience Ravenscroft & Schmierer has provided me with, allowing them to consider my skills and offering me a full-time paralegal position at the firm. I am thrilled and looking forward to this new venture.
Vanisha graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Canberra, Australia, is admitted as a lawyer in Australia and is currently a paralegal at Ravenscroft & Schmierer.