My Business Placement Experience at a Law Firm
This summer, I interned at RIAA Barker Gillette, in Lahore, Pakistan. After some self-reflection, I thought I’d share my experience.
A couple of months back, I received an email from the University of London inviting me to apply for summer placements. The application, whilst short, required a lot of planning and self-analysis. At one point I got frustrated, and thought of not submitting an application at all; my mind was luring me into the idea of relaxing over the summer break after some hectic years of law school. However, now that I have completed the placement, I realise my frustration was the result of a lack of confidence in my abilities. In the end, I chose to look past the frustration, finalised the application, and clicked that ‘send’ button, resulting in the placement becoming the highlight of my summer.
I was aware that working at a big firm would be quite challenging. To ensure I gained the maximum through this experience, I sat down with my supervisor on the very first day and we discussed my career development plan. She was kind enough to take the time out, and tailor the plan according to the area the firm specialises in; power projects. This was a challenge I had not anticipated, but I accepted whatever came my way, and acknowledged the fact that I had now entered a wholly unfamiliar territory.
Fortunately, the training I received in law school helped me acclimatise to the new environment. To better understand an area of law, a law student does what they do best; read, read a bit more, then ask for more readings, and finally, form an opinion on the subject. I acted no differently in the workplace. Apart from doing the work assigned, I asked my supervisor to assign me daily readings that would give me a better understanding of the energy sector in Pakistan. As such, I was now working at home too. I did extra readings, took notes, re-read them, analysed them, and then had discussions with my supervisor. The extra effort I was putting in added to the challenge, but through this I developed the ability not to simply survive in stressful conditions, but to thrive as a team player.
Each day my supervisor pushed me to work to my limits, and each day the threshold for what my ‘limit’ was kept getting higher. My hard work came to fruition by the end of the week when I was informed that RIAA wished to extend my internship by another week. This did well to boost my confidence, and motivated me to work harder. The rest of the placement included more challenging work, with my supervisor placing a specific focus on my technical skills. I shadowed her drafting of energy purchase agreements, I was taught to make professional research memorandums, and was given an overview of the legalities, and procedures that result in the commercial operations of a power plant. All in all, it was a whirlwind of activity, and I was fortunate enough to have found a supportive supervisor that placed so much importance on my training.
Through this placement, I now know for sure that I chose the right profession for myself. I previously doubted if I would enjoy practise as much as I enjoy theory, but I don’t anymore. I may not know what area of law I want to specialise in yet, but I am a work in progress. I want to explore new opportunities, and constantly develop myself to be better. I want to accept whatever comes my way, and turn it into something positive. As long as I do that, I am sure I will be successful.
For all those who are conflicted between the choice between interning or relaxing over the summer break, choose the former. I promise you that you will learn more about yourself and get a better sense of your future career plans.
I’d like to end this with a telling quote that adds more meaning to my experience:
'Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new centre of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand'. - Oprah Winfrey.
Uzma is studying the Bachelor of Laws in Pakistan.