Most Rewarding Attachment Internship – My Full-Blown Experience
It was after my final year of law school while waiting for my exam results during my summer break that I decided to apply for an attachment position. Initially, I tried applying to various other firms but to be honest, it was not easy getting a response, let alone being accepted because I did not make my applications in advance and had only started applying at the last minute after coming back from a holiday. This was when I almost wanted to give up trying. However, the turning point of it all was when I stumbled upon Alex Chang and Co. and decided to give it one last shot.
I must say, I was very impressed with their efficiency as I received a relatively prompt reply to my attachment application. Within a few days, an interview was fixed and before you know it, I was about to start my first day of my very first legal attachment ever. Mind you, I was only there for a brief period of 2 weeks but despite that, I would say that I proved others wrong because though short, I did and was exposed to a plethora of things – beyond what I thought would never be achieved in such a short span of time. For this, I am very grateful to Mr. Chang for giving me this internship opportunity.
WORKING UNDER ONE OF THE PIONEERS IN OUR AREA OF PRACTICE
During my first day, I got to read Mr. Chang’s work, “Companies Winding Up Handbook”, of which he is the Advisory Editor and of which was frequently referred to by judges and often cited in case judgments. Also, he is the contributor to the Malaysian Court Forms, Companies Winding Up section; the Halsbury’s Laws of Malaysia and Companies Winding Up section Vol 6. Not only is he remarkable in what he does, but his firm is as well, with many success stories of its own. Naturally, I was in awe and felt even more honoured to be working under such a prominent lawyer and firm.
Only the second day, I already had the opportunity to follow one of the legal assistants to go to the KL High Court. From this, I got to observe how practicing lawyers dealt with matters and how they negotiated with one another, basically to experience their lifestyle and to be exposed to the atmosphere surrounding a court. Over the next few days, I even had the opportunity to go to the Istana Kehakiman “Palaces of Justice” in Putrajaya, which houses the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court. I was entrusted to perform certain tasks alone, one of them being to file certain documents. This allowed me to be more independent and responsible, which additionally helped build my confidence, that I could indeed manage things on my own. In other words, I had underestimated my own capabilities but with these tasks, it made me stronger and I was able to prove myself otherwise.
DEVELOPING RESEARCH SKILLS AND EXPANDING LEGAL KNOWLEDGE
I was also given assignments to do such as research assignments and reading of articles written by former pupils of Mr. Chang. As I was studying the University of London International Programmes which is 100% written examination, I never really did course work before and hardly any researches too. Therefore, this assignment given to me during my attachment was no doubt challenging initially but after going through it, you will soon come down to the realization that having research assignments like these are useful to develop one’s research skills as they are essential skills for aspiring lawyers.
On the other hand, reading some of the former pupils’ articles, namely on Judicial Management and Corporate Voluntary Arrangement, provided me some deeper insight into Corporate Insolvency and so on. To be honest, Company Law was not my favourite subject during my UOL days, but I still do acknowledge the fact that it is important and therefore, one of my aims coming to this firm is to come with an open mind and to try grasping whatever I can within the 2 weeks.
And guess what? I did. While reading them, I took down some notes and they really did enlighten me about Corporate Insolvency. Reading articles like these will also prepare me for my upcoming CLP classes because at least now, I have some background knowledge on such matters, and thus, the slight upper hand.
I am also of the firm belief that everyone must start from humble beginnings. Therefore, in Alex Chang and Co., I was also taught to do basic clerical work such as making phone calls, running errands like making trips to the post office to drop in letters, photocopying, scanning in materials and so on – all of which are relevant in the future.
NO DISCRIMINATION – YOU ARE PART OF THEM TOO
One of the advantages of working in a small legal firm environment like Alex Chang and Co. is its familial feeling. When I was here on my first day, I could see and sense the proximity in relationship and that they were like one close-knit family.
I am more than confident many other former attachment students of Alex Chang and Co. would agree with me, that friendships were gained along the way. Now being an attachment student myself, I can finally relate. Day by day, I feel the growth of the bond between each and every one in the firm and I. It IS possible to have professional friendship turned into personal friendship, and this is not very difficult to achieve in Alex Chang and Co. because everyone is so nice, friendly and has a sense of humour. This makes going to the office a little less dull and dreadful.
One of the “highlights” of my attachment experience would definitely be during lunch time where every day, I look forward to what Ms. Janice (one of the legal clerks) has in store for us. When I agreed to join the rest of the staff for lunch, I did not expect all of us together to be eating food cooked by Ms. Janice in the conference room. But this again, exemplifies how much they are like a family in the firm, and such tight relationship with one another is one of the essential elements for success. Also, when there are leftovers from lunch, we would eat that for dinner, so not to fret, because you will be well fed in Alex Chang and Co. courtesy to the talented Ms. Janice’s cooking skills. Also, this allowed me to financially save a lot from having to spend on lunch outside.
REFLECTS THE REALITIES OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION
All in all, within the 2 weeks, I was able to gain some insight and get a very raw glimpse of the working environment in the firm. There will undoubtedly be hectic moments at times and in fact, I did witness some of the distressing moments but there were also laughter and fun-filled moments, like celebrating Ms. Chow’s (secretary) and a fellow intern’s birthday.
So who said you can’t learn anything within 2 weeks? I certainly did not leave empty-handed. I went home with exactly what I hoped to get as an attachment student newbie in Alex Chang and Co. – a pleasant experience and some real life skills to prepare me for the reality of legal practice. And with that, I would like to take this opportunity to express my utmost gratitude to everyone in the firm especially Mr. Chang, Ms. Lim and Mr. Soong for the help, support and guidance given.
Emily Wong Zhe Xian
University of London