I was honoured and happy for the opportunity to have a PLT placement at Auslaw Partners for 30 business days. I am grateful that I have enhanced my legal skills and employment abilities as well as experienced of real law firm work experiences and feelings.
IMPROVING DRAFTING SKILLS
I have drafted letters of advice, emails, statements, contracts, statutory declaration, deed of rescission and research results report. After drafting, I appreciated that my supervisor always provided me with a lot of amendment advice. The advice was not only containing legal concepts but also drafting skills and practical applications. For example, I learnt that the readers of a letter of advice were ordinary people. They generally did not have enough legal knowledge or backgrounds. They also did not have a lot of time to try hard to read the letter of advice. Therefore, when I was drafting a letter, I had to make sure my drafting was concise and clear to be read easily and ensure that it was not allegations but are neutral in language.
Drafting a contract, a statutory declaration or a deed of rescission are different from drafting a letter. I learnt that I had to apply the precedents or templates consistently and clearly. A contract and a deed of rescission should be provided to the other side for their review before finalisation. Therefore, the alterations and amendments to a contract or a deed was also important for legal drafting skills.
APPLYING LEGAL SOFTWARE: ACTIONSTEPS
Before I went to the placement, I was familiar with the perceptions and applications of cloud storages. During the 30 business days placement, using legal software refreshed my perceptions and applications of cloud storages. Auslaw Partners was using Actionstep as the legal software. It is a powerful legal software to save a lot of time costs and physical storage costs and spaces. The legal software conveys a philosophy of document managements. I have been constantly discovering and exploring the functions of Actionstep.
Through the application of a legal software, my legal thinking has also been updated. I always thought that a legal matter should be listed and named by parties’ names or property addresses. After the placement, I realised that the legal matter should be listed and named just by the matter itself because even the same parties or same property addresses could be required different legal services.
AWARENESS OF RISK MANAGEMENT
I did not expect that I attended a Lexon lecture in Auslaw Partners’ meeting room. I thought this lecture was of a great significance to me. It made me intuitively feel the risks of legal practices in the true environment of being an employee of a law firm. To the specific legal practices and my placement experiences and tasks, I felt how close the risks of legal practices were to me. These risks were not described in textbooks or lecturers. I could think of a lot of different moments that I had to be aware of the risks of my legal practices, especially to ensure to inform client’s legal risks and obligations.
Before the lecture, I thought some legal awareness and knowledge were not important to mention to the clients, or even I thought some legal advice was just common senses. However, after the lecture, I do need to ensure all clients are informed with every legal point or advice, no matter how easy and common it is.
ENHANCING TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS
I have imagined to be a legal profession a million times before the placement, however, the real busyness of working in Auslaw Partners still shocked me. The time management was one of the priority skills for every legal tasks. I had to distinguish between the priorities of primary and the secondary tasks and then tried my best to sort of all tasks during business hours. There were also some emergent tasks jumping in my task queue. Therefore, efficiencies were essential. In addition, it was also important that recipients of messages or emails receive the information clearly and accurately. This could save a lot of time to avoid the recipients asking more explanations or me spending more time on the same messages or emails twice.
STRENGTHENING COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Communication skills directly affected my work efficiencies and communication costs. I improved my written communication skills by drafting, sending emails and messages. My verbal communication skills were also improved dramatically by client interviews, taking phone calls and communicate with co-workers.
Besides what I learned in from law degrees of communication skills, I experienced more different kinds of communication with clients, co-workers, other side solicitors, government staffs, court staffs and other third parties.
I thought that communication was also an effective method to learning from other people. For example, during verbal communication with co-workers, I could learn the words, points, and logics that they used during client interviews. Moreover, reading emails or drafting from other co-workers also provided me an excellent opportunity to learn their expressions, frame structures and emphasises of their writings.
TASTING SELF-MOTIVATIVE AND HARDWORKING SPRITS
I thought the atmosphere in the office really rubbed off on me. Every co-worker was self-motivated and hardworking. They were busy but tried best to manage their emotions. I thought it was a very good point worth me to learn.
REFRESHING IDEOLOGY of LEGAL SERVICES
In my original ideology, I thought that a law firm was just to advise legal services. Therefore, all a law firm ought to do was to take instructions from clients and then provided their legal advice. This idea was refreshed during my placement. I realised that providing legal services were not simply answering their legal issues. A law firm also needed to focus on clients’ experiences that whether they feel that the law firm was reliable, helpful, professional, and thoughtful.
The service concepts I have learned from this placement was that a law firm was like an intelligent cane to show the potential doors and assist clients walk in the direction of a door they want to go and finally reach their ideal destinations.
LEARNT FROM MARKETING/CO-WORKER SHARING SEMINARS
During my placement, I watched and learnt in several marketing/co-worker sharing seminars. These seminars were shared by experiences solicitors not only for marketing purposes but also for sharing their knowledge of their main fields of attack to all other co-workers or peers from other law firms.
I would love to watch these seminars because I thought they were extensions and paths of my legal theories to real legal practices. My most profound was a live seminar on succession law. Two experienced solicitors shared the seminar in a multicultural retirement home. They educated the elderlies on the basics of succession law, gave a few simple examples, and finally answered some common questions. I thought I learned a lot as well, not just their sharing of the legal knowledge, but their presentations and body languages.
NEVER STOP UPGRADING AND LEARNINGS
My supervisor is the managing partner of the law firm. He is extremely busy. However, during my placement, I saw he was learning a new course of mediation and he finally obtained the mediator certificate. It inspired me a lot. I learnt that I also had to constantly update myself. I believed that graduating from law degrees or being admitted as a lawyer was not the end of my learning journeys. I need learn while I am working in the future to find my shortcomings and rooms for improvements.
In conclusion, the 30 business days placement gave me a lot of working experiences in a law firm, true senses of being a legal profession, practicing applications of the previous legal knowledge from my legal degrees. It made me more determined to choose my future career path to be a legal practitioner.