The mid-year months of June to August are traditionally popular periods for legal career fairs in Malaysia. During these months, law students are either on a break in between semesters, or on their summer holidays before the start of the new school year.
In recent years, there has been a notable decline in interest in these legal career fairs. Employers who have been participating in these events started noticing a few years ago that the number of attendees was beginning to drop. After some time, we are now seeing employers beginning to lose interest too, and the number of law firms and other employers who are willing to spend on taking up spaces at legal career fairs have reduced dramatically.
The failure of the most recent legal career fair in Kuala Lumpur — the Bar Council’s “Legal Expo” (LEXPO) on 30 July — is a perhaps extreme example of this trend.
Guest writer Wong Yen Ni shares her thoughts on law firm internships. She spent June at Donovan & Ho, and is spending July at Peter Ling & van Geyzel, ahead of entering her second year of law at The University of Leeds.
If you told 16-year-old me that I would be writing an article on legal internships, I would probably have laughed at the absurdity of it, and given you my assurance that I would not go anywhere near the subject of law. But the forces of the universe conspired in special ways to ensure that the exact opposite happens.
Before my enlightenment, I had earnestly vowed not to read law because I felt that it was simply not for me. I found it difficult to imagine finding a sense of belonging in such a seemingly daunting, unforgiving place that did not seem to resonate with my aspirations and personality. I felt that it was hard to be individualistic in a place where everything seemed so rigid and matter-of-fact.
However, I soon discovered that this image of the legal industry that I had constructed so prematurely did not do justice to what it truly embodied, and that I could not be more wrong in my initial thoughts. It turns out that not every lawyer you meet has it all figured out, nor had the ultimate dream to be a lawyer in the first place. And the law, multi-faceted as it is, only grows more interesting with each encounter.
It’s the season for law firm internships — the June to August ‘summer break’ for many law schools. A few years ago, a law graduate who had one or two internships on her CV would stand out. These days, internships are the norm, and a graduate who does not have any work experience is an anomaly.
An internship should be a very intense period of learning, with most interns only willing to commit a one-month period (I recommend at least two months for the best experience) to each internship — because they want holiday time, or to do more than one internship. One month can really fly by, and if you’re not intentional about squeezing the most out of that time, it will be over before you know it.
Here are 7 quick tips on how you can make the most of your law firm internship.
This article was submitted by the authors of the book.
“Justice, Courts and Wigs” — That is what most of the bright eyed high school graduates would think about our overglamourised profession with the proliferation of dramas such as Damages and Suits. This perception translates into a generation of law students who got into law school and instantly realised that this profession is not for them.
Careers website Office Parrots are kicking off a new ‘OP Kopi’ feature, and the founders of The Malaysian Lawyer have the honour of being the first invited guests.
It’s an opportunity for law students or recent law graduates to meet us (Lee Shih and Marcus van Geyzel) for a chat over coffee. Edited: Due to popular demand, this event has now been moved to Saturday 23 April 2016 at 11am.