Recent LLB graduate and Law Clinic member, Ibukun Badmus completed a two-week internship in collaboration with the University of Bristol Law Clinic and law firm Burges Salmon. Burges Salmon sponsored this new internship, open to Black students, as part of the Law School’s anti-racism work to address the chronic underrepresentation of Black talent in the legal sector. She explains what she gained from the experience, and why seeking out legal work experience can help shape the path you might like to take in your career.
What was my internship like?
The beginning of my two-part internship was at the University of Bristol Law Clinic. From the first day, I delved into tasks I had never previously undertaken, such as drafting court submissions for clients. Following on from this, I conducted legal research, independently held meetings with clients and responded to queries for employment, benefit, family and real estate matters.
Although, I was supported and supervised throughout, I was granted the scope to be independent and develop my problem-solving skills by coming up with solutions on my own, before discussing them with my supervisor.
Following on from my Law Clinic experience, I completed a two-week work experience at Burges Salmon. Throughout my internship, I sat in the employment department. Here, I was given an opportunity to conduct real trainee tasks such as, drafting employment clauses, attending hearings and amending employment defence templates.
“This experience equipped me with greater insight on what it would be like to work in a commercial law firm, including practically undertaking day to day tasks.”
Prior to this experience, I was only superficially aware of what working in a commercial law firm would entail, having only been informed through word of mouth and not through personal practical experience.
My experience at Burges Salmon has solidified my desire to pursue commercial law and has galvanised my motivation to complete my applications in this upcoming cycle.
I am grateful to Sumayyah Malna (Solicitor at the Law Clinic and lecturer in law) and the University of Bristol for enabling this collaboration, as it has undoubtedly given me greater confidence to embark on my legal career.
Why should students apply for a Law Clinic internship?
The first thing I would say is that nobody should doubt their ability and if you can, you should apply to the Law clinic internship! I know many people (such as myself) are sometimes apprehensive to apply for legal opportunities, as you may feel as though you are not equipped with the necessary skillset to perform well. This is simply untrue and besides the experience gained and skills you will develop are the most important things.
“Focus on what is to come and not what you feel like you do not have.”
In my application I was honest about why I wanted to apply for both the law clinic internship and Burges Salmon internship and indicated how I believed it would benefit me and develop my legal skills.
From my first day as an intern at the Law Clinic, I was met with imminent deadlines. My supervisor encouraged me to embark on the work (court submissions) and send her drafts, as I went along. I was set unfamiliar work and admittedly, I initially found the tasks daunting. However, after taking the initiative to look at templates on Practical Law, I was able to successfully complete the draft. I was tasked with several court submissions following this and it became considerably easier to complete.
My top tips for students gaining an internship
As such, my top tip for this internship or any legal work experience generally would be to always endeavour to independently come up with your own solutions. For me, it allowed me to offer effective solutions to the client and even see things from multiple perspectives, as I was critically analysing my own thought process.
This is not to say that you should not ask for help if stuck (I did several times) but make sure you have a go beforehand. Moreover, even when working in a team, by thinking about the matter individually first, it enables you to bring valuable considerations and solutions to the forefront during team discussions.
This skill was also necessary during my internship at Burges Salmon, where I was faced with corporate employment matters. There was a particular task where I had to amend an employment defence template against an advisory guide. I was initially doubtful as to whether my amendments were accurate, nonetheless when I showed my work to my supervisor, it was correct. Had I gone to my supervisor before properly tackling the task, I would not have demonstrated a willingness to complete the task, even where I found it challenging.
This is only one of the many skills I developed whilst on this internship. I would strongly advise anyone who is able to apply for this fantastic opportunity to do so.
“I then had the courage to embark on my first application cycle. I frequently cited my work during the Law Clinic, as well as my two-week work experience at Burges Salmon throughout my applications and even mentioned them at my assessment centre. Eventually, I was lucky enough to obtain a training contract from a magic circle firm!”
Sumayyah is planning to run this scheme again in the future – keep an eye out for more details on the University of Bristol Law Clinic website.
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Read about the invaluable work of the University of Bristol Law Clinic and the opportunitities it provides to our students and local community.