Read a personal review of a student’s week of work experience.
A week in view
Over the summer holidays I completed a week of work experience at one of the leading multi-national law firms in the country – Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, www.freshfields.com I will admit that, without a doubt, I would recommend them to anyone who is remotely interested in a career in law or just even studying at university, as their programme is incomparable and gives an insight on how to become a solicitor, some possible fields, how solicitors work on the environment and the different pathways into becoming a solicitor.
Before even starting my first day, I had to complete and sign a few documents regarding health and safety and a non-disclosure form about any sensitive data I learnt. This had to be returned before I started and on my first day it was necessary that I bring a form of identification (preferably a passport) to ensure my identity. I was also given an allowance of £30 to spend in the cafeteria for the week!
An early start as I was expected at their Northcliff reception by 9:50 ready for a prompt start at 10:00. Every other day I was expected to be working the regular hours of 9:30 till 17:30. I was also given a chance to speak with other work experience candidates, as I suggest you do, as it is essential you work in teams later throughout the week and it may also calm your nerves knowing that there are other people in the same situation as yourself.
And the day begins …
The day begins with going over health and safety, information about the firm and other team building exercises. More importantly, I was given my identity card which I was required to have on me at all times and expected to return it by the end of the week. I was also given my timetable outlining what I would be doing for the week and given an initial talk on what was planned for the week ahead. The majority of my work experience was to focus on a case study where I had to act as a real solicitor investigating a case. There was also a debate later on in the week and, in my case, it was about the advantages and disadvantages of doing pro-bono work. I was also given a tour of the building and introduced to my supervisor, so in the event that you need help or guidance, this person becomes your support. My supervisor then took me to my office where I was given the desk of a solicitor who was away for the week and met my office buddy, who is essentially the same as your supervisor. You are given two senior members, as the daily life of a solicitor is rather busy with meetings and drawing contracts and, in case one of which is unavailable, there is always someone to help and support you. I was then given independent time to start my case study until lunch, which always began at 13:00. On my first day I was invited to have lunch with my supervisor and learn more about them, the firm, ask about anything you want to learn, to be honest. After lunch, I was given a lesson on how to use the internal computing system so I could contact anyone and access my work, as all the data you use is encrypted and cannot be taken home. Afterwards, I was given a presentation on mind-sets and the skills necessary in any professional career, given by one of the associates at the firm, until 16:30, when I was given more time to work on my case study or any other independent work you may have been given to complete.
By Tuesday I was expected to be at my office by 9:30 and working on my case study or any independent research such as my debate on pro-bono, which took place later on in the week. By 11:00, I was given a room to work in. I shared my research, with my team, on my case study as we were given a mock character to later interview so we were able to learn more on the subject. The rest of the day was filled with more talks about certain aspects of law you can enter, such as sports arbitration and construction law. But most my day was devoted to working in my office alone and completing necessary research and interpreting how the law could be applied to my case.
Wednesday was actually one of my favourite days as it started off at 9:30 like every other day, yet Wednesday was the day where I gathered all my research for my case study and shared it with my associates, so we could start to build an argument on whether there was any alleged breach of laws and implications, if there were any. Later on in the day, there was some focus for the upcoming debate where we were given time to plan and share any learnt knowledge to, again, build a strong and stable argument whilst planning for any rebuttals. The day also consisted of numerous talks, with my favourite being about how to enter a career in law and the multiple ways of entering, whether it is through the typical law degree, a conversion course or even an apprenticeship.
The main focus of Thursday, for myself, was the debate on pro-bono as most of my day revolved around preparation and practise for the debate. There were also more talks on different fields of law. Besides the debate, it was more focused on working at my desk or in a conference room with my associates, building our argument for the case study.
My final day began as usual, except the dress code on Friday is seen as a dress down day. The day began a little differently, as all the work experience candidates were invited to watch a real re-sentencing at the Royal courts of justice further down the road. Due to confidentiality, I can’t explain or describe much about the re-sentencing.
After watching the re-sentencing it was time to present our investigation to the CEO (a solicitor role-playing as the CEO of the company who asked for the investigation). Afterwards, there was a debriefing where all work experience candidates were asked to reflect on their time and complete their work experience journals.
In conclusion, most of the days at Freshfields were spent working alone at a desk, emailing associates and completing research, but this is the typical life of a solicitor and truly does give an insight on what it takes to become a successful solicitor. In addition, the talks were incredibly helpful, and to anyone remotely interested in a career in law, I highly suggest trying their work experience programme.