So, I Found Out What Corporate Lawyers Do

Justine reflects on her two-month internship. If you missed it, she previously set out her pre-internship thoughts here.

My two months at PLVG flew by very quickly. Too quickly.

It was a fulfilling and refreshing experience, as the myths I had in mind of corporate lawyers were debunked, and I had the opportunity to grasp what corporate legal practice involves. I was also humbled and pleased to find that my expectations in my pre-internship writeup were crafted in as part of my internship programme. Humbled, because it meant my employers were intent on facilitating the achievement of those expectations, and pleased as the finer details were noted and made part of the internship (yes it’s true – corporate lawyers are highly meticulous and observant).

Below are the exit interview questions which were posed to me to assist me in reflecting on my internship experience. I am incorporating my responses to these questions here, as their focus helps form a holistic structure of my take on the experience.

What did you learn from the internship?

Of all the things I learnt, foremost on my mind are initiative, discipline, confidence, and teamwork.

One of the points in an article I read on Forbes – aptly titled “20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don’t Get” – perfectly sums up the value of initiative: “Don’t wait to be told what to do”. More often than not, it is easy and comfortable to just carry out given instructions instead of going the extra mile. I have had it reinforced to me that doing the bare minimum is not acceptable, and is definitely not impressive.

For example, when doing a piece of research, what you’re looking for is not always restricted to just online searches and offline reading, but may require finding the number of a specific department and calling them to obtain specific information. Not all the questions which lead to the ultimate solution are handed to you, and assumptions should not be made even on points you might view as trite. It is vital to remember to find out the practical procedures of getting things done, and to know how to explain the practical solution with certainty to your boss or client thereafter.

Discipline has a lot to do with pacing oneself. When given a task, for example, I don’t recall being set a deadline most of the time. I would gather that the time taken and resulting quality of the work produced are a measure of the effort and skill put into completing the task.

I was joined by two other interns during my time at the firm, and we were given two group assignments as part of our internship programme. Presented with real situations concerning corporate law – the areas covered by the assignments included takeovers, banking law, and boardroom issues – we had to look into relevant statutes (the Companies Act, Capital Markets and Services Act, and the Malaysian Code on Take-overs and Mergers), guidelines issues by the authorities (Bursa Malaysia and the Securities Commission), and case law to form solutions.

The three of us did not always agree when sharing our opinions, and this resulted in much hesitance when presenting our proposed answers to our boss (who acted as our client), because we could never be sure if we were correct. This taught me confidence and teachability – both in work and in life – a reminder to be grounded in my own beliefs, and not to waver in the face of conflicting viewpoints, while at the same time being open to consider them and learn from the process.

What did you enjoy most about your time at the firm?

I appreciate the fact that the partners were patient and willing to spend time explaining basic elements of fact and law that I did not understand, and bothering to expand on the background of assignments given. The Associates were extremely approachable, always ready to give crystal-clear explanations on work assigned, tips on the working life of an Associate, and were great fun overall. The pupils and staff were also very friendly and helpful – from always giving a hand with errands and office procedures, to going together on car rides to serve documents, and simply being marvellous colleagues.

The element of flexibility at PLVG is commendable. The routine and hours expected of us are such that we do not fear for our positions should we be slightly late (although perhaps I can’t fairly say this as an intern), nor do we make light or take advantage of this flexibility. I will always remember the one time where we (the pupils and I) had to rush a matter and so were in the office till around 8.00 pm. One of the partners seemed upset that we were still in so late, and literally told us to pack up and head home. The pupils then told me they would come in earlier the next morning to finish the task so that it would be done on time. This, in my opinion, reflects a healthy work culture – nurturing accountability and efficacy, as each employee identifies with the valued role of being a team player (or the less clichéd term being “part of the PLVG family”), and in turn being flexible with their own schedules.

Did the internship meet your expectations? Will the experience assist you in your future career decisions?

Yes, I got a glimpse into what corporate lawyers do, and now find corporate law to be a viable career option. Company law was my least favourite subject while studying, but observing it in application has positively changed how I feel about it.

I also noticed that the tasks assigned to me were tailored to what I had in mind before starting the internship. This reflects time and thought on the part of the employer, and shows how each intern is taken as an individual, making for a meaningful and unique experience.

What I’ve learnt from my time here will influence my future choices in terms of practical tips and values gained. Important to look out for in any career setting is its general vibe, as environment inevitably has a strong impact on one’s aims and principles. At PLVG, there was certainly more than enough camaraderie and room to grow – making for an excellent vibe.

Law school for me had begun at a point where I was (slightly more) idealistic about making an impact on social change and among civil society in our nation. I used to think that litigation – besides politics and policy-making – was the best and only way to achieve this. Two years into my law degree, after re-analysing my interests and looking at the state of things in the long term, I have realised that this is not so. There are countless other avenues (wonderful and mysterious feats taken on when mind-controlled by His Supreme Eminenceness Lord Bobo) to make an impact, and to each his own.

What are your immediate future plans?

I will be heading to Cardiff University this September to complete my LLB and perhaps my BPTC after. Participating in the law school’s pro bono scheme activities is something I anticipate, particularly the “Innocence Project”, which examines miscarriages of justice in cases of hardcore prisoners maintaining their innocence.

Besides being involved with the various clubs and societies available, I look forward to meeting new people and encountering different levels of discourse. Also important, of course, is getting decent grades for my final year of LLB to be accepted into a Bar school.

All in all, this internship has been a fun and rewarding two months. The staff even planned me a farewell dinner. And got me a bouquet. And gave me hugs. Ah, so much love! I would like to thank Marcus, Peter, Vanessa, Salmah, Abigail, Fara, Azrina, Safirah, Celine, Roxane, and Sha-Lyn for being good mentors, teachers, colleagues, and friends.

I’ve got to say, out of all the amazing bosses I’ve had up till this point – and I’m blessed to have worked with many – PLVG definitely ranked among the coolest.

Everyone wear baju kurung day! Just for fun, for a staff member's birthday. The male members did not take part.

Kick-ass roti tisu at Bestari. No, we didn't have tea everyday. No really.

The firm's buka puasa outing.

At my farewell dinner. Wait, why does everyone look so happy?


Tags: , , , , ,

Justine is a student intent on breaking convention. She finds humans to be fascinating creatures and believes in the uniqueness of the individual. She'd really love to blawg about her observations, but usually procrastinates and instead tweets her views and experiences @JustineMeiErn.

Posted on 19 September 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

Read more articles posted by Justine Mei-Ern.

Read this first: LB Terms of Use

6 Responses to So, I Found Out What Corporate Lawyers Do

  1. Azrina Yusof

    I'm sure you'll be missing sitting next to me and……….. Hahaha. All the best there,Justine! :D

  2. adriene

    Happy studying :)

  3. The local mat

    Great article and photos, you sound more learned compared to the fella who wrote Why I Quit My Job: Changing Lanes, Climbing Peaks article. At least you use original photos. Keep up the good work!

  4. Farahalina Rosli

    its good to know that you've enjoy urself within that two months. keep it up..

  5. throng888

    Well done. All the best to you in Cardiff!