For AUT Law student Kim Beange, summer 2015/16 is less about taking a break and more about taking another step in her transformation from legal secretary to solicitor.
Beange competed against third and fourth year law students from around New Zealand to secure a summer clerkship at Buddle Findlay, Auckland where she is working full time over summer along with nine other summer clerks.
Before studying law Beange had worked for more than a decade as a legal secretary, but stepping into a legal office as a legal hire for the first time marks a big step in her journey towards becoming a qualified lawyer.
She began her transition to law gradually, studying her first year of law part-time while working in a legal secretary role. “I quickly realised I was keen, so I’ve been studying fulltime since, with a break in the middle when I had my son,” says Beange.
“Having previously worked at another large Auckland firm as a secretary, I had seen how the summer clerk programme worked – it’s a great opportunity to get awesome experience and it looked like a lot of fun as well. The ability to gain practical experience in an environment where you are provided with lots of training and encouraged to ask questions is invaluable.”
The toughest part about changing careers has been the financial readjustment from working to studying fulltime, says Beange: “I am married with a 2 year old son and a mortgage so it was a big step to take. Finding the time to study and do all of my readings and assignments around a busy toddler is challenging, but I have a lot of family support.”
After graduating at the end of 2016 Beange hopes to secure a permanent role as a law clerk at Buddle Findlay. Law clerks usually work two six-month rotations in different departments to help them decide which area they want to practice in.
The summer clerk scheme is run in most of New Zealand’s large law firms; it offers students a chance to try out the reality of working in a legal office, and gives employers an opportunity to see how the students perform in a professional environment. For most summer clerks the ultimate goal is to secure a full time position with the firm, to be taken up after their final year of study.
AUT Law students have secured placements in diverse firms this summer, including a Beijing-based law firm, the Mangere Community Law Centre, Kensington Swan and the Ministry of Justice.