*Day in The Life: Law Careers and Degree

INTERNATIONAL LAW INTERNSHIP
Let me introduce myself… My name is Ina, and I’m a final year International Studies/Law student. Last year I completed an internship in the Pro Bono Department at DLA Piper in Paris, including short stints in the Rome, Amsterdam and Brussels offices.
My internship in a nutshell… In a major global law firm pro bono work involves lawyers acting for some of the world’s largest global charities, aid agencies, NGOs, UN agencies, governments and academic institutions. The nature of the work is quite varied from providing commercial legal advice such as drafting an employment contract to running major human rights trials.
Why I applied… I have always been interested in international law, human rights and social justice and thought this would be a great way to use my legal skills to assist some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
How I applied… I had to defer a semester of my degree to complete this internship because the one in Paris did not coincide with my uni break. However DLA Piper and other law firms offer such internships at different times and in a number of their offices (incl. Sydney) so make sure you look into it!

Traits/Skills that are valuable… As an Intern you’ll be assisting with legal research, drafting, client meetings and other administrative tasks so experience in these areas is helpful. You also need to have strong oral and written communication skills and a demonstrated interest in social justice.

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Amal Clooney: #internationalhumanrightslawyergoals
Do this internship if you like… People, human rights, social justice, international affairs, travel.
Don’t do this internship if you don’t like… Research, public speaking, working hard, travelling to different countries at short notice (just kidding, that’s the best part!)
My advice to you… 
  • Consider why you’re interested in international law, human rights and social justice. In an interview you need to able to answer this with conviction and simply saying you want to travel won’t cut it!
  • Get involved in extra-curricular activities that will set you apart – things like debating, mooting, Model UN or UN Youth and volunteering for causes you’re passionate about.
  • Learn a second language! This can really set you apart if you aspire to have an international career.

 

UNIVERSITY ARTS / LAW STUDENT

Let me introduce myself… My name is Anna, I study a Bachelor of Arts/Law (LLB), with a major in English Literature.

Why I chose my degree… I’m not entirely sure. I started off studying a Bachelor of International and Global Studies but decided to transfer to a Bachelor of Arts because I believed it would be more rigorous and allow me to major in English Literature (which at the time would not have been possible). It seemed smart to also transfer into the LLB if I got the marks in order to avoid paying a ridiculous cost for the Juris Doctorate course later.

I chose a Bachelor of Arts because I believe in learning for learning’s sake. If you are passionate about what you’re learning (i.e. English lit) you will love your arts degree (no, none of the subjects are at all similar to the HSC, they are much harder and far more interesting). I love literature and despise people who call it ‘just Arts’ – they have clearly missed the point or believe in education solely as a commodity. If you want a career out of your degree go study commerce.

Where I wanted my degree to take me… When I started Arts/Law I wanted to work in social justice – in some sort of advocacy role – so I thought law would be a good place to start. Five years of law later and a university with an almost singular focus on corporate law (at least as far as careers go) can really squeeze that passion out of you. To manage the inevitable spiral of depression and cynicism inflicted on any left leaning, social welfare loving student of law by the endless sea of suits and bizarre ‘I’m a paralegal’ wheelie bags touted by 18-24 year olds, I decided to volunteer at a community legal centre. I also currently do volunteer legal research for a refugee service in the Western Suburbs of Sydney and that has helped me regain some faith in the law (though not, unfortunately, the people who administer it) and its capacity to help people.

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Anna means bags like these. With way less colour. And a ton more books.

Skills I’ve developed… Arts helped develop my critical thinking skills, confidence in my ability to analyse texts and the ability to develop an engaging thesis. Law helps you develop several personal and professional skills. Law is a great equaliser. No matter how well you did in the HSC, you are not guaranteed to do well in law. In law you learn to engage with both sides of the debate because a good lawyer knows the arguments the other side will raise. If you do your own research and write your own notes you learn to structure arguments succinctly and with clarity. You also learn that you’re not always right (which can be hard).

Do this degree if…

  • You like to engage with people from similarly white, middle to upper class privileged backgrounds, almost exclusively. (That was a joke….)
  • You like problem solving
  • If you can manage reading dry material for days
  • If you like group work – working with other people in law will help you get through the subjects that are objectively dull and inspire a state of comatose.
  • You’re not good at maths. There’s no maths in law. Unless you do tax law. Don’t do tax law.
  • You’re a bit eccentric. Some really interesting, intelligent people study law, you just have to search for them…. really hard.

Don’t do this degree if…

  • You’re incredibly creative – it will dampen your creativity
  • That was a joke, law desperately needs creative people and you have to be creative to study Arts
  • You can’t manage extensive reading

My advice to you… The LLB is a really great course. That is a hard thing for me to say. If you are creative and engaged you will love Arts. Do not do Arts for the sake of it; it is a waste of your time and the time of the people who chose to do it out of passion. Combining Arts and Law is great because Arts keeps you engaged, and when you finish fourth year law you can reminisce on how much you loved studying Hemmingway or the Brontes as a way to avoid the dark abyss of law that lies ahead.  

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