Marianne Zarzar is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance major at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.
In this week's post, Marianne shares about her internship experience at Holman Webb Lawyers in Sydney and what she has learned about legal field in Australia.
When deciding to study abroad, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to complete an internship while abroad. I wanted to know what the workplace is like in other countries, all while gaining some experience in the legal field. During my time in Sydney, I interned at Holman Webb lawyers, which is a commercial and insurance law firm.
Outside the courts in Sydney.
In all honestly, I was nervous when I first learned about my placement since I knew close to nothing about that sector of the legal field. Despite that, and after having my Skype interview with my supervisor at Holman Webb, I decided that it would be an amazing and challenging opportunity. Unsurprisingly, I found that everyone at the firm was very welcoming and willing to teach me everything I needed to know. I think that nervousness is totally normal among almost everyone who does internships, especially when doing so in a new country. However, I had to remind myself that our placements were not expecting us to be experts, and were expecting to have to teach us everything we needed to know.
I interned at Holman Webb Lawyers this summer.
Interning at Holman Webb was extremely interesting, challenging, and fascinating all at once. One of the things I enjoyed most was learning how the legal system works in Australia as opposed to the States. One of the main differences is that in Australia they work on a solicitor/barrister system. This basically means that solicitors do all the work for the case, including finding evidence and communicating with the client. Solicitors then hire a barrister who argues the case in court.
Within Holman Webb, I interned with the corporate and commercial team. Throughout my time there, I had to complete multiple research projects, and other tasks primarily involving contracts and corporate advice. Through the work I did, I learned about new and previous policy and legislation surrounding businesses and not-for-profits. I learned about policies such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which has impacted the way in which businesses can handle European citizens' data across the globe.
The lobby of my internship office at Holman Webb Lawyers.
Everyone within my team, and in the office in general, were incredibly welcoming. I met some of the most dedicated, smart, and hardworking people at the firm. Despite it being a serious environment, they were able to make the work more enjoyable since it was obvious they enjoy what they do. This made me even more interested in learning more about anything and everything they did.
My desk during this internship experience.
Lastly, I had the opportunity to go to the Supreme Court, which was completely different to what I was expecting. Judges wear white wigs which are supposed to symbolize their lack of identity and impartiality when making judgements, and people must bow when entering and leaving the courtroom. I loved how much tradition there still is within the system.
Throughout my internship I have learned how to work under pressure. Working with time-sensitive matters, and on other people’s time and schedules, I have learned how to prioritize tasks and my time to be able to get everything done. I have also learned how long it takes me to do certain tasks, which is helpful when planning and organizing myself, and when to ask for help when I need to. I have also learned a lot about laws in Australia, especially in relation to privacy and contracts, which was surprisingly fun to do.
One of the conference rooms at the office.
This opportunity has taught me a lot about myself. I have learned that I like challenging work, and that I do my best work when surrounded by people I can relate to and feel comfortable with. I have also realized that I do some of my best work under pressure, which can be both a good and bad thing! Most importantly, this experience has exposed me to a whole different sector within the legal field I had not previously considered, and might now that I have had this opportunity. Interning at Holman Webb has most definitely been one of the highlights of my experience in Sydney.
Marianne's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.