As the end of the second year of my law studies was approaching, I knew that it was more than time to start looking for an internship to do during the summer or at least very early in the fall.
However, as I am not one of the most organized students, I was very late in my research compared to many of my friends. Hence, I got to benefit from their experiences and some were kind enough to tell me where it was worth applying and where it was not. It was one of those times that I truly acknowledged the benefits of being a « Grande Ecole du Droit » student, seeing how we were able to help and support one another in our research.
Eventually, after sending tons of applications to law firms specialized in business law, I ended up having an interview that led to me being hired: I had an internship for the whole month of September. As I had time during the summer, I was able to find a job and forget a little bit about the internship. But as the end of august was approaching I started to get more and more stressed about the idea of becoming a trainee in a law firm for the first time.
What was I so scared about?
Let me tell you.
But more importantly, let me tell you why all this anxiety was unnecessary.
First, I was very insecure about my knowledge. I was very aware of the fact that it is not common for a second-year student to do an internship in a law firm. Indeed, law students usually start getting internships at the end of their bachelor in law or even during their master’s degree. Hence I was afraid that I would not have a sufficient background in law. However, the lawyers I was working with were particularly informed of the area of law that were covered during the first two years of law studies so they were kind enough to only give me files regarding subjects that I was familiar with, such as contract law or basic commercial law.
Secondly, I was not sure about my ability to research and meet the lawyers’ needs. Since it was my very first internship in a law firm, I did not know how the lawyers were expecting the results of the research to be presented and how deep they wanted me to investigate. Moreover I did not feel very comfortable with the law databases, given that we were not encouraged to use them during our law studies at the university.
However, I had the chance to be very close to the law firm librarian, a very nice lady always available to help all the trainees in their most complicated research. She anticipated my fear and made sure to teach me everything about the most common law databases at the beginning of my internship and I am thankful to this day for this little formation because it has helped me a lot in my studies this year. Also, the lawyers made me feel very comfortable so that I was able to ask any questions I had on the research or the affairs I had to work on, although, most of the time, I didn’t have to ask anything. Indeed, the lawyers explained every detail of the case and what kind of information they needed: therefore, I was fully aware of what I was looking for.
This benevolence of the librarian and the lawyers in general quickly swept away the reluctance I had concerning the atmosphere of a law firm. Indeed, the atmosphere of a law firm seemed pretty unwelcoming to me given that I had a lot of bias regarding the very hierarchized organization of a law firm. Even though the atmosphere was overall extremely professional, I was always able to get all the information and help that I needed to learn and improve myself as a trainee.
Finally, my ability to fit in with the other trainees gave me some anxiety at the beginning of my internship. I remember the first day at the law firm being welcomed with other trainees and also asked where I was standing in my law studies. I must admit that I was a bit disconcerted when I discovered that all the other trainees were actually students in the bar school. I recall asking myself how I was going to fit in with all of those other students I was sharing the library with. Nevertheless, those trainees ended up being my best allies in the law firm because they were always ready to help when I encountered difficulties in a research. Moreover, they were very interested in my studies and gave me a lot of advice for my future degrees and internships.
To conclude, this experience has been nothing but enriching because I was reassured in our strong preparation for the professional world as soon as the second year of law studies and I also learned a lot in law through the researches. Moreover, from a personal point of view, it has been very rewarding to meet older trainees from different law backgrounds and to fit and feel as part of a law firm at the end of a one-month internship.
By Baya Hariche