This summer, Alex and Ishan traded out watching Suits in their living rooms for the real deal, as they were given the chance to experience life at a law firm. We checked in with them to see how they got on over the summer at HGM.
What have been the highlights?
I’ve got to do a lot of varied work, but have particularly enjoyed trade marks where I’ve helped clear brands for use and registration, and drafted responses to IPONZ objections. The work is great, I’ve helped on matters for both local and large international clients. I’ve also really enjoyed researching legal issues for the litigation team, and helping on various company law matters!
It’s been awesome to try my hand at a bunch of different things and working on a diverse range of interesting matters. I have particularly enjoyed the commercial side of HGM and learning about the work our clients do, researching parts of the New Zealand regulatory landscape which I did not even know existed and figuring out the best ways for international business to comply with our laws when coming to New Zealand. Something else that I have found surprisingly enjoyable has been reviewing companies’ terms and conditions, privacy policies and other data related agreements.
[Side note: My love of the commercial side is hugely disappointing to the litigation partner.]
How have you found summer clerk life at HGM?
I have really enjoyed being in a supportive team environment. The firm has an awesome group of juniors who have involved us in work-life right from the beginning. Everyone has been more than happy to answer all of my questions. It has been great to get to know everyone socially, there have been loads of pre-work (and during work) coffees, spending lunch times with the team and social netball on Monday’s. Everyone made the transition into work very easy.
The thing with Uni, is that it never switches off. By being able to ‘clock out’ when leaving the office, I have been able to have an awesome work life balance and enjoy parts of my summer. The way the office is laid out it means we all have plenty of room and the ability to just put our head down and get work done when we want to, but we also have a really social culture and there is always someone who is up for a chat. As the firm is a boutique we get to work closely with the partners and senior team pretty much every day. It has also been great to hear about people’s different journeys through the law and really see that the notion of “traditional pathways” are slowly disappearing.
Any advice to law students applying for clerkships?
It is important to go through the summer clerk application process with an open mind. Things we’ve all heard over the years means many of us have pre-determined ideas of what working in a law firm is like. My idea of senior lawyers and partners before working as part of the HGM team was that you barely saw them, and they were generally unapproachable.
What I quickly learnt at HGM was that their culture is quite the opposite. From the start, partners actively encouraged us to ask questions, and an ‘open door policy’ meant everyone was always available and willing to listen. If I relied on only predetermined expectations from what others have told me, I may have never pushed myself into the application process. Deciding to experience life at a law firm for myself opened me up to this amazing opportunity. Working at HGM has made me realise that the partners here are consciously involved with helping us throughout the whole experience. I know every firm is different, but generally, my advice is don’t believe the stereotypes!
If you’re reading this article you have probably already heard this in some way, shape or form but my top piece of advice is to ensure you remain authentic throughout the recruitment process.
For most recruitment processes the two most important things firms are looking for are competency and fit. At the end of the day most law students who are applying to clerkships are in a similar band of ability so generally by the time you get to an interview phase competency has already been established. This means, for the most part, the interviewing process for summer clerks is done to see if you can communicate well and if you would fit the culture at the firm you are wanting to join. It is definitely true that firms do have unique cultures and ideally you will be able to do work that you really enjoy.
Lastly, favourite food/coffee spot?
Alex – food
As HGM’s office could not be more central, you’re spoilt for choice. That said, I was shocked to find out its 2.9-star rating on Google because Oji Sushi in Commercial Bay is a solid 6-star from me. They give me free Japanese Mayonnaise every time and I am their most loyal customer.
Ishan - coffee
Despite the best efforts of some, I haven’t been converted to a coffee drinker over the summer so won’t be able to provide a coffee recommendation (however Kokako in Commercial Bay, NEO in Queens Arcade and Altezano Brothers in Snickel lane do seem to be firm favourites). What I can say is that the Coffee Club does an absolutely slept on Belgium hot chocolate. 10/10 would recommend.
[Side note: Again, this was hugely disappointing to the litigation partner]
Summer clerk recruitment 2021
Our summer recruitment drive is about to kick off for the year, so keep an eye out on our website and socials for updates.