Is a career in law for you? Find out with an internship
Becoming a solicitor is a big commitment. Not only does it involve a three or four year undergraduate degree, afterwards you’ll need to complete all your FE1s and do a traineeship, all of which could take longer than your undergraduate degree. For this reason, it’s important to know before you make the commitment that this is the career for you. One of the best ways to do that is to apply for one of the many internships available in the sector.
Jack Mulholland, Trainee Solicitor
Degree Business & Law (UCD)
Job title Trainee Solicitor
Employer A&L Goodbody
One of the sector’s major employers, A&L Goodbody, runs a four week internship programme each Summer in June, July and September. Through these programmes approximately fifty interns join the Firm and are placed on teams led by a partner and also including associates, solicitors and trainee solicitors. Each intern is assigned a ‘trainee buddy’, who helps the intern find their feet on arrival and mentors them through their entire internship.
Jack Mulholland completed a four week internship with the Firm in July 2011. He was placed with the Projects and Construction department of the commercial law firm. Jack was assigned tasks by the solicitors and associates on his team but received regular and ongoing feedback and access to the work of the partner ensuring he would get a better understanding of the decision making process.
Among many other tasks, he was given the responsibility to research a freedom of information request from one of his partner’s clients and then talk the partner through the research he conducted. “The client came in for a meeting and I was allowed sit in on the meeting in order to see how the partner gave our client advice. It gave me great exposure on how to deal with a client,” says Jack.
This aspect of getting in depth experience on real issues for big clients both from Ireland and overseas helped motivate Jack to be a solicitor. “Most of what you work on will end up in the newspapers in a couple of months. I’ve always liked the idea of giving professional advice to people and seeing a happy client at the end of an important process is very satisfying,” he says.
Jack studied Business and Law in UCD and says it was his ability to show that he was well-rounded in the interview process that was key to him securing an internship position with A&L Goodbody. “It’s an online application form and if you are successful at the application stage, you will then be invited in for an interview, which lasts about 40 minutes. It focuses on your undergraduate studies but also on your outside interests. I talked about how I helped organise the Business and Law charity ball and raised €2,000. They want to see how you put yourself across as an individual and as a professional”, he says.
Jack is currently completing his traineeship at A&L Goodbody which involves four six-month rotations with the Firm in addition to more theoretical work at the Law Society in between the stints onsite at A&L Goodbody. With such commitment to doing a traineeship, the Business and Law graduate explains some of the reasons why the internship has been so beneficial.
According to Jack, the internship is a “mini-traineeship because you are working on a lot of the same material”. This, he says, is the best possible indicator as to whether you are going to enjoy the kind of work involved in being a trainee solicitor or not.
A path into a traineeship: In order to secure a traineeship, you must have secured a training contract with a solicitor to provide training and experience over a two-year period. Every intern, on completion of their four week internship, will be offered a trainee solicitor interview in order to secure a traineeship with the best performers offered one of these positions with the Firm. To date, over 50% of the current trainee solicitors have secured a traineeship via the summer internship programme. Jack conducted his interview for a this position via Skype, as immediately after completing his internship, he was travelling to the National University of Singapore to complete an international exchange year. “They offered me a place while over there, and were very flexible in relation to my start date which means you can go travelling after college if you wish and start a year later”. Jack’s year in Singapore was an additional year on top of his four year degree meaning he didn’t start his traineeship until April 2014, giving him the opportunity to take some time out to travel"
A&L Goodbody’s four week internship not only gives you the requisite skills, it's also a great chance to network within the industry and Firm. “When you join the Firm, there’s a real open door policy”, says Jack. “You can really talk to anyone whether it’s a partner or an associate, it doesn’t matter”. Also, the Firm places a strong emphasis on the social aspect. “The Firm has a great social committee responsible for organising lots of social activities throughout the year including the summer barbecue and the Christmas party, which all employees attend. I remember when I started my traineeship, so many people came up to me and said 'good to see you here' and 'congratulations'. You get to meet so many people during the internship that when you start the traineeship, you already feel like you know the place well,” adds Jack.