This summer I completed a three-week legal internship at a Spanish law firm in Barcelona. My ideal choice was to work in an English law firm in London and complete a vacation scheme there, but things turned out differently. I was having a difficult time finding a summer legal internship in the UK. I had applied to a few firms and had passed their application stage but was unsuccessful when it came to their online assessments. Therefore I needed to find a plan B. My family was living in Milan at the time so I reached out to a few firms in Italy as well as a few lawyers through my dad. However, since my family then decided to move to Spain and the fact that the small number of people I had reached out to did not contact me back, I realised I had to come up with a plan C.
A few days after I completed my summer examinations I decided to contact a senior partner who had a small firm in Barcelona. I have known him for several years and have built a trustworthy relationship since I was an intern when I was doing my A-levels at his firm. I had an interview with him and in less than 20 minutes he called me and offered me the job. Throughout my internship, I undertook legal research, drafting contracts, contacted clients and notaries and proofread English documents and emails. I also contacted banks concerning clients’ pending transfers, drafted a European Succession Certificate, drafted several burofaxes to clients (certified legal email sent by post) and drafted written statements to be signed by previous lawyers for the current lawyers in the firm to take over a certain juridical procedure. I was responsible for drafting an audit letter, drafting a legal agreement for the opposing party before taking them to court, and undertook legal research within the Spanish civil code.
One of the highlights of this experience was attending a meeting with a notary alongside my boss and colleagues, where our clients and the other clients’ lawyers were also present. This truly made me see what lawyers do outside the office and how important commercial lawyers are when it comes to any daily legal issue. My biggest achievement was being responsible for creating a letter of audit for our client, a 44 billion multinational corporation, which had 7+ litigation cases against other companies that owed them money. I contacted the attorneys of those companies and looked through previous files and patrimonial writings to then provide an updated summary of the legal and financial situation of those cases. This experience not only helped me polish fundamental legal skills such as legal research and document drafting but also became more flexible in carrying out work which I am not familiar with.
This experience allowed me to develop and strengthen many necessary skills that one will require in their future legal career, regardless of the jurisdiction and practice area of law they will undertake. Before this internship, I tried applying to several large international and US firms based in London as I was interested in working with high-profile international clients. Nonetheless, working in a smaller firm, where we had created a strong teamwork dynamic, allowed me to gain an insight into a greater variety of legal work than I would have experienced if I had interned at a larger firm, and was still able to come in contact with cross-jurisdictional cases and clients.
My advice for any student who wishes to undertake a legal experience throughout easter break or during the summer would be to apply to as many firms as possible, even if they are something slightly different to what you would like. A lesson I learned throughout my application process was to stay open-minded and not close any doors on myself. Although my plan A and plan B did not turn out the way I wanted them to, my plan C did. As someone not from the UK, I think it is an amazing opportunity to reach out in your home country or another country in which you are interested and apply for any legal positions they offer to students. If your first and second options do not work out the way you wanted them to, the third time lucky!