This summer I completed a week-long internship at Miller Samuel Hill Brown Solicitors in their Glasgow office. A highly educational experience, I was able to immerse myself in various areas of law and get a flavour for the range of cases solicitors tackle.
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I did some preliminary research into the law firm and found a general email address on their website. I was then contacted by the partner arranging summer placements for this summer. Another approach is to find the email address of a partner (perhaps a partner specialising in an area that particularly interests you or you have previous experience in) and email them directly.
What Was it Like and What Did You Learn?
Working at Miller Samuel Hill Brown was an incredible experience and I was disappointed I was only there temporarily. The firm is a very close-knit community with solicitors who are happy to clarify legal intricacies and discuss their cases with you so you can get an idea of the work done in different legal sectors. Overall, I was immersed in Scots Law and was able to witness its practical application.
I was given a wide range of tasks during my internship, allowing me to hone various professional skills that will stand me in good stead in my legal career.
I firstly summarised key significant cases, such as McDonald v McDonald, which pertained to family law and set precedents for future cases. Through this I developed skills in research, reading legal documents and extracting key pieces of information. I was also exposed to the court processes in Scotland and came across key laws that govern the country.
I reviewed several case files relating to a range of different legal areas such as custody law and personal injury litigation. This allowed me to review how lawyers keep records of their cases, how correspondence between solicitors and their clients is conducted and how court papers are laid out. I was also fortunate to discuss these cases with the firm’s partners who were involved, allowing me to gain an insight into the tasks of a solicitor and ask any questions relating to the case. Through the case files I came across various key legal documents and terms, many of which are unique to Scots Law, from a Medico-Legal Report and a Claim for Loss of Society to a Schedule of Loss and Minute of Agreement. With my new-found understanding and experience, I was then able to draft my own copies of legal documents and communicate with clients about their cases.
I was also fortunate to shadow an associate during trips to the Glasgow Sheriff Court and Justice of Peace Court. I was able to observe hearings and review court processes in Scotland as well as witnessing how cases progress and how judgements are made.
I wrote to Miller Samuel Hill Brown in January with the intention to complete a summer placement sometime in late July/early August. Obviously this was very early and I heard back from them in April confirming my placement and arranged dates. However, it’s important you get a head-start for several reasons. Firstly, firms will get many applications for work experience and emailing early will ensure that you secure a placement. If you email even a month before the placement, it’s likely that other students would have already made arrangements. Also, if you need to prepare anything before your placements (provide documentation, do an interview, fill forms etc.) this gives you plenty of time.
#2 Offer Examples in Your Application
In my application email I made sure to highlight positive characteristics that I felt would make me a good fit for the firm, backing this up with examples from previous experience. For example, I mentioned that I am a hard-worker and that I am committed. This is a fairly common sentence in applications. However, I made sure to justify this by drawing on my exam results and awards I had received for dedication to my studies. It is very important to validate your claims to offer proof and help your application stand out from others.
Begin your internship with an open-mind and without making any decisions on the area of law you would like to specialise in. Most trainees and associates haven’t made their decisions and chances are you’ll change your mind numerous times during your legal career. Instead, try to gain experience in as many different sectors as possible. Miller Samuel Hill Brown is a great firm for that as you work on cases in all different areas, whether that’s family law, personal injury litigation or commercial property.
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