A truly global law firm
When I was researching firms during the clerkship season, Baker McKenzie had my attention almost immediately due to its international nature and multi-jurisdictional capabilities. Coming to Australia as an overseas student and having gone on exchange to many countries, I found no better place than Baker McKenzie to maximise my exposure to high-profile international matters and cultivate my knowledge of business practices in foreign jurisdictions.
Baker McKenzie is a truly global law firm with 76 offices in 46 countries, and inherently ample international opportunities. The Firm's Australian offices have employees who come from different parts of the world with diverse backgrounds, qualifications and skills.
During my first rotation of the clerkship, I had the opportunity to work closely with a partner who is originally from the UK. He was educated in Scotland and admitted to practise as a solicitor in NSW. My supervising partner for the second rotation, on the other hand, was educated in France and the US and admitted to practise as a New York attorney. The unique diverse workplace at Baker McKenzie has allowed me to learn from the world's top legal minds, and at the same time has enhance my cross-cultural competencies which are essential in today's connected world.
Experience, learning and growing from day one
I completed two rotations during the clerkship - one with the Dispute Resolution team and another with the Corporate (M&A and Private Equity) team. From day one, I was provided with valuable resources and given meaningful tasks which helped me better understand the work involved in the practice groups, and more broadly the practical side of the law in action.
A typical day for me involved conducting legal research, attending client meetings, preparing ancillary documents, drafting client correspondence and shadowing senior solicitors in Court. Throughout both rotations, I received extensive support and mentorship not only from my supervising partners but also other lawyers in the practice groups. Despite their busy work schedule, everyone always made time to have a conversation with me, answer my questions and pass down tips and tricks to help me succeed with my rotation and the overall clerkship program.
Another valuable learning opportunity was working on the Firm's pro bono matters. These matters are diverse in nature ranging from visa applications for refugees, to support payment applications for victims of domestic violence. For a domestic violence related matter, my legal research and analysis of legal precedents were eventually incorporated into a Special Counsel's written submissions! Working on the Firm's pro bono matters was extremely fulfilling as it allowed me to apply my legal knowledge and skills to help the most vulnerable members of our community.
The Talent Management team at Baker McKenzie also provides great support and learning opportunities for summer clerks. During the first week of the clerkship, we attended a number of training sessions - in relation to the Firm's technology, library and knowledge services, as well as sessions on topics such as effective time management and communication strategies to optimise every learning opportunity coming our way.
Other than general training, the Talent Management team specially organised an innovation competition for summer clerks called the 'ReInvent Challenge'. To prepare us for the competition, Talent Management ran a workshop in which they introduced to us the concept of "design thinking", a problem-solving method which encourages and helps ignite creative solutions to any given issue. The workshop was well-facilitated and informative. The techniques introduced to us were highly applicable, not only to the competition, but also in the context of legal practice.
I was closely mentored by both Talent Management staff and senior lawyers throughout the competition. The competition was a fantastic opportunity for me to bond with the other clerks, polish our problem-solving skills, and present our innovative ideas to an esteemed judging panel comprising the Firm's National Managing Partner, senior partners and Talent Management staff. To me, the ReInvent Challenge was a highlight of the clerkship and a memory I will forever cherish.
Back for more
Towards the end of the clerkship, we had the opportunity to express our interest to continue with the Firm as a paralegal in our preferred practice group. As soon as the clerkship was over, I returned to Baker McKenzie as a paralegal in the Corporate (Financial Services) team. I have been entrusted by my team with more technical, challenging tasks including legal drafting, statutory interpretation and writing client alerts. These are valuable opportunities for me to consolidate my legal skills and build a strong foundation for my upcoming graduate program.
I commenced my study for the Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice shortly after joining as a paralegal. This had a slight impact on my availability to work, however, my supervising partner and other colleagues in the team have been very supportive of me taking time off as needed for classes or exams. This support has allowed me to be involved enough to gain a good understanding of the team's work, and at the same time undertake my study.
There is a multitude of other activities outside of work for summer clerks and paralegals to participate in, such as inter-firm sporting events, committee planning of diversity and inclusion activities, practice group social drinks, and end-of-year/end of financial year parties. There is always something for everyone!
I recall getting to play lawn bowls for the first time at the Dispute Resolution end of year celebration. We played in groups and competed against each other. My team included a senior partner, some associates, support staff and summer clerks. Even though our team lost, it was a day to remember as we all had fun and I could experience first-hand how close-knit, genuine and warm the people at Baker McKenzie are.
During the clerkship, my cohort would also often hang out together after work or on the weekend. We quickly formed a strong bond and were able to turn to each other for support throughout the clerkship. It was amazing to have formed such strong friendships with my cohort at the start of my career - and I look forward to continuing these as we commence our graduate program.
With the work, the people, the opportunities and the culture combined, I am confident that I have made the best decision in choosing Baker McKenzie for a clerkship and as the place to establish my legal career.