Name: Laura MacKay
Job title: Law Clerk
Employer, city/country: Bell Gully, Wellington NZ
Length of time in current role: Started 2017
Where and when you studied law: University of Otago (2011-2015)
Describe a typical day in your job?
The day begins at 8:30am, and generally the first thing to do is to check your emails to see what tasks others have for you that day. A law clerk’s role is mostly to assist with research, document filing, proof reading and so on, but there is a lot of different trainings and so on for juniors as well. As I have just begun, I am still feeling my way into the role!
How did you get into this job?
I applied for the Bell Gully summer clerkship between Scholarship when I was in my second year of law school and was fortunate enough to be awarded one. I then summer clerked between my 4th and 5th years, and started at Bell Gully in 2017 after taking a year to travel.
Are there particular study subjects or working experience you would recommend to prepare for a similar role to yours?
Obviously law is helpful! However, in terms of the particulars of working in a firm, summer clerking is easily the most helpful experience I had to prepare for this role, mainly as it acquainted me with the firm and how it works.
What are the highlights of the job?
The people most definitely. Everyone I work with is friendly and approachable, as well as making sure I am getting the most from my experience. This also contributes to a great social scene. I was lucky enough to be put in a team that works in an area of law I feel quite passionate about as well, so I enjoy the research and the tasks associated with that.
What are the challenges of the job?
There are a lot of intricacies in both the law and the way a big firm is organised that take some getting used to, and the only way to really grasp them is by doing. This can be quite challenging as it does make you feel like you have no idea what you are doing sometimes, however these things only really come with experience!
What kind of personal qualities are suited to this job?
Good writing skills and communication skills more generally, a solid work ethic, being willing to ask questions and learn from mistakes.
What one thing do you wish someone had told you at law school?
Make the most of your time at university and focus on making good relationships. When you start work there are a lot of people in the same boat, and it helps to have a network of friends for support.
Any other advice for law students wanting to get into a similar role?
Studying is not the be all and end all. Being interested in other things outside of law is important, whether its sport, art, travel or whatever you are passionate about. These help to make you a more rounded person, which is important for firm culture.