I was presented with the opportunity to do an (unpaid) internship with a self-employed solicitor renting office space in a small-ish law firm, with the chance of gaining a position within this firm. While I gained invaluable experience during my 6 months there, full time, there were times when I considered giving up on a legal profession altogether. I should add that I wouldn’t consider myself a rich kid, having to take on extra, 10 hour shifts at a second job on both Saturdays and Sundays, and study on the Legal Practice Course (which I later had to defer due to stress) at the same time. Cue illness and having to take some days off my ‘job’, leading the senior partner to question my ability and motivation. To be fair, the majority of the staff were quite welcoming, although a bit wary of any newcomers in a climate where the partners constantly ‘touched upon’ the recession and fired staff. However, some of the employees were outright rude, expecting me to carry out ‘runner’ duties like buying new light bulbs for the office, and re-deferring their own duties to me.
I finally got the hint when, having been asked to cover 2 weeks for the receptionist in the immigration department (who wasn’t paid for holiday leave), and having been congratulated for doing a much better job than her by all the other staff, I wasn’t paid anything (saving the firm 2 weeks of wages!) or even given a thank you, and thereby abandoned my first venture into the legal field. The boiling point was when a caseworker who had made an appointment with a new immigration client, whose deadline for appeal was the next day, fell ill and couldn’t meet the client. Having attempted to refer the case to the most senior solicitor present, I was rudely told that he couldn’t do anything, and I was left to explain to a client seeking asylum who had very little chance of finding a new representative AND file his appeal on the same day that we couldn’t help him. I couldn’t understand how the same unqualified, inexperienced intern whose ability and motivation were questioned by the senior partner was placed in such a position. Out of spite, I did add that the client was welcome to report the firm to the relevant legal body!