By BAC Apprentices
(Ivan Teng, Vignesh, Scarlett, Chris, Tara, Jolynn, Simran)
Internships are usually part and parcel of a degree program. It is an opportunity for us to experience a working environment in an arguably low-stress environment. However, most law programs are unable to fit an internship into the syllabus due to its many core modules and workload.
Read on to find out how an internship can be beneficial should you find the time for it before embarking on your pupillage.
When will I find the time?
The best time to do a legal internship would be the gap between finishing your final year, or at some point during the final course of your study. For most of us, this would be a 9 month gap, a considerably long period. While it might be more difficult without this gap, it may still be possible to fit one in while doing your degree or CLP, although that will require a bit of finesse and communication with your employer should you require more flexible hours.
There is an understandable fear that all you will be doing is “photocopy, buat kopi” as my lecturer likes to say. For the most part, you WILL be expected to be doing some form of menial task without the requisite industry knowledge to contribute substantially to the firm from the get-go. Even so, you will have access to a rich library of resources such as submissions, contracts and pleadings you can pick up and look into. In doubt, you can also refer to the associates working alongside you who should be more than willing to help. As you gain more confidence and experience, your boss may entrust you with more important matters such as conducting research and drafting cause papers, core skills an aspiring lawyer should have. The experience you obtain will be proportionate to how much effort you put in so it’s worth going the extra mile!
This is a great opportunity to network with other members of the legal fraternity. Not all of us will have connections in the profession and that is perfectly fine. However, it is undeniable that building these connections and friendships will be beneficial in the long run. With the legal profession being as tight-knit as it is, a common saying among lawyers is to always be courteous, you never know who you will need in the future. It can be from getting advice, an extension on a filing date or being referred to a client. Bottom-line is, it’s always better to have friends than enemies. Personally, I was able to find out the work culture of different firms from my colleagues which really helped me figure out the type of firm I wanted to join.
Last but not least, an internship helps build your resume or CV. As with any profession, the competition to find a job as an advocate and solicitor becomes tougher with each passing year. Having undergone an internship is a great way to stand out from the crowd! Working experience is something every employer looks out for as the transition from university life to work is that much easier, both for you and the employer! It is a win-win situation regardless of whether you plan to stay on in the legal profession as the skill you acquire will be highly relevant and transferable to any other field of work. Should you do well, your employer might even write you a letter of recommendation if you ask for one!
In short, internships are a valuable experience even if they can start out tiresome and/or intimidating. There is so much to learn from more experienced like-minded individuals if you are willing to buckle down and persevere, and that goes for anything in life.
The Malaysian Bar website is always updated with law firms looking for interns alongside pupils or associates should you be interested. We wish you all the best!