Hi Ashish! You’ve been with the firm for close to 5 months. What are your key learnings from this experience?
Ashish: One of the key learnings from my experience at Clyde & Co was developing the ability to work effectively in a team environment. Despite working from home on some occasions, I also had the opportunity to work in the office which exposed me to the corporate culture of a law firm and as a result, I was able to meet graduates and associates from a diverse range of teams. Working in the office meant that we were able to regularly attend stand-up meetings where we discussed our ideas with our senior associates and received constant updates on the matter we were working on. The team was supportive, and we were often encouraged to raise concerns and ask questions for further clarification on the tasks at hand which further enhanced my legal knowledge. This also gave me the opportunity to network and build a rapport with my fellow co-workers. Building workplace relationships was an important way to understand what is expected from a commercial law firm as I was able to learn from the experiences of others.
Additionally, as an e-Discovery paralegal, time management was a crucial skill I was able to develop as there were deadlines to meet. In most instances, we were required to finish a batch of documents before the end of each day. To ensure that only the most relevant documents to the issues in dispute were produced, constant focus and paying close attention to detail were necessary skills that I have learned to develop during my time at the firm. The associates were very friendly and pleased to give advice on how to approach tasks in a timely and efficient manner. I can honestly say that this role has been a great way to gain some exposure into the legal industry.
Hi Matilda, Noting that you’re entering the final stages of your degree, how has the paralegal role at Clyde & Co helped you decide where to head next with your legal career?
Matilda: Working at Clyde & Co has taught me to be open to all practice areas as I begin my legal career. I was assisting with discovery for a high profile class action in the Marine team, in an area of law I had never previously considered. However, this particular project combined elements of tort law and litigation, which showed me that every area of law has so much more to offer than I initially imagined. Knowing this fills me with confidence that I will have an exciting career no matter which practice area I choose.
Darshan, jumping onto an ediscovery project right before the COVID-19 lockdowns took effect might be challenging for some. How did you find the transition to remote work?
Darshan: The transition to remote work was extremely smooth. We were set up with everything we needed from work, from laptops to headsets so that we were geared up for meetings. The work remained steady and if there were any major changes to the task we were asked to perform, we were given ample support to complete those, whether it be a quick call to clarify the instructions or privately messaging.
We had a few team meetings to check in with everyone and see how we were, both work-wise and also from a mental health standpoint. Being able to gain an insight into e-discovery and the litigation process was invaluable and definitely provided an eye opening experience into how the law industry can rapidly evolve throughout a given case.
If you had to advise a first or second year law student on how to prepare for a role like this, what advice would you give them? Think back to the day you were invited to interview.
Ashish: The statutory interpretation and legal research skills that you develop as a law student plays an integral role as a paralegal. On some occasions, you may be required to conduct legal research so having a solid understanding of legal terminology is vital. As an e-Discovery paralegal, it is important to have a basic understanding of the litigation and the judicial process involved in seeking a discovery order.
I would suggest familiarising yourself with e-Discovery software such as Relativity by perusing through their website, reviewing YouTube videos and completing the modules provided by Yegal Academy which were very informative. I think it is important to have this skill set as it is highly likely that you will conduct document review at some point during your time working at a law firm. Additionally, having excellent organisational skills is a must as you will often be given more than one task by your senior associates. I would suggest volunteering at a local Legal Centre to gain some experience and understanding of what may be required as a paralegal by interacting with other students and solicitors. This also has the advantage of improving your communication skills on a professional level which is crucial in any team-oriented environment.
What have you learned by working on this recent Yegal Paralegal project that you didn’t learn at uni?
Matilda: Working on the recent Yegal project at Clyde & Co was a fantastic bridge between uni and full-time work as a lawyer. We don’t learn much at uni about the practicalities of legal work, however this project gave me an insight into what life at a law firm could look like. I was able to understand how the work I was doing affected my bosses, Counsel and the client, I had the opportunity to contribute in team meetings and I enjoyed the experience of getting to know colleagues and the firm’s culture. I now feel more prepared for a future career in the legal profession.
Do you think students should prioritise securing legal experience & practical training higher during their undergraduate years?
Darshan: Definitely. I think there’s a harsh reality with the legal industry. When it comes to securing graduate positions and the like, firms do value prior legal experience/exposure and it’s worth it’s weight in gold. Gaining experience such as reviewing documents, demonstrating attention to detail, legal research and drafting legal documents are all tasks that help you hit the ground running come penultimate and final year time.
My legal experience was unfortunately stunted by COVID, but gaining experience through Yegal at Clyde & Co was definitely great to get some legal experience under my belt.