Summer Clerk Profiles
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A GLN SUMMER CLERK?
As a GLN Summer Clerk you will receive a warm welcome into your host department. Encouraged to participate actively in your team's work programme, your assumptions will be tested and you will develop a much better understanding of the machinery of government.
Read the following profiles to gain an insider's opinion on what it's like to be a clerk in the Government Legal Network......
Rose Abdul Aziz
Crown Law Office
I have enjoyed just how varied the work I do on a daily basis is. For starters, you are involved in actual, tangible, real work and are embraced as a valued member of the team. I have enjoyed networking with not just my team, but teams across Crown Law, and with my fellow interns in other ministries and departments.
At Crown Law, I have been able to assist in a wide range of work, and have also been able to witness the mahi of my fellow colleagues, with some of the most notable experiences for me being watching my colleagues appear in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. I came into the internship only knowing what I had learned in law school, but through the programme have had my eyes opened to what a day in the life of a Governmental lawyer looks like. I feel like I have learned so much about what practicing law in the public sector looks like, but know I still have so much more to learn and those prospects excite me!
The best thing about the GLN Summer Clerk Programme is just how welcoming everybody has been and how passionate everyone involved whether it be GLN Programmes Team or my team and wider office are in seeing me thrive and make the most of my time. You are embraced as a member of the team and are directly involved in work. This can initially be daunting and overwhelming but I have seen my confidence increase substantially as a result, as I back myself more and more. I also think the events organised by the GLN Programmes Team for the Summer Clerks are so valuable. We are able to network and learn more about what being a lawyer in the public sector looks like. I definitely had a massive nerd moment going on the Parliament and Supreme Court tours and it has been super cool to be able to witness, in real time, the interconnectedness of the Legislature, Judiciary and Executive, and have some sort of part to play in that system. It has also been really encouraging seeing diversity and inclusivity prioritised in the workplace, and as a woman of colour, this has been so heartening and reassuring to see the public sector, a substantial part of the legal profession, moving in such a direction.
You have nothing to lose by applying and should definitely consider applying. I otherwise always had my sights set on being a lawyer in the public sector and was blessed to be presented with this opportunity. However, even if you are not sure if this is the sort of work you want to do, I would still encourage you to apply, as you never know, you may find your heart lies in public sector work and/or the idea of being a lawyer in the public sector may become demystified as it otherwise is not really a career prospect commonly/stereotypically discussed in law school. In regards to your application process, be yourself and back yourself! I genuinely found that the GLN Programmes Team really wanted to see me thrive and supported me, even throughout my application process, and took a holistic approach to my application, valuing me as an individual and perceiving me as much more than just my academics. Let your pūmanawa for the law shine through and just be your true, authentic genuine self!
The GLN Summer Clerk Programme was enjoyable in many ways, which has ultimately expanded my horizons and fostered my growth. For starters, I had an opportunity to learn and apply myself in an area of law that I was unfamiliar with – consumer credit. This gave me a whole new appreciation for the different stakeholders involved in the industry and the role that the Commission plays in promoting the interests of consumers. The type of work I did also impacted the key players in the industry – from responding to questions that lenders had for the Commission to drafting a quasi-judicial decision that certified a lender. While the work was challenging, it was enriching as it provided an insight into what it means to be a lawyer in the public sector.
As cliché as it may sound, the best thing about the GLN Summer Clerk Programme is the people you meet and interact with – either within your agency or the wider GLN community. I quickly realised that I was chatting with some of the brightest minds and people with bags of experience. As a GLN Summer Clerk, being able to pick their brains every day is a privilege in itself. Despite having packed schedules, everyone (including the Solicitor General Una Jagose KC) was incredibly patient and caring. When you coupled up these incredible people with the GLN Programmes' events, it added to the experience that much more. As Summer Clerks, we had the opportunity to attend workshops around mindfulness and Te Ao Māori, which I thoroughly enjoyed as I got to engage with other Summer Clerks and discuss important topics. Overall, the constant support from everyone involved in the GLN Programme allowed all the clerks to get the most out of it – something which I am immensely grateful for.
Working in the public sector was something I had not thought about deeply while studying. However, the GLN Summer Clerk Programme does a fantastic job of giving you a flavour of what it is like, and I am now hooked. If you have been curious or intrigued about anything while reading the Summer Clerk Profiles, I highly recommend applying for the Programme. The application process for the GLN Summer Clerk Programme is very straightforward. It invites you to be real and true to yourself, so I would advise you to use it as a moment of reflection. When responding to questions, be open and honest because your experiences (both personal and professional) have shaped you into who you are today, so be proud of them. Finally, having a positive attitude and a smile on your face goes a long way!
I’ve enjoyed being involved in practical and interesting legal work during the GLN Summer Clerk Programme. My team made sure to include me in all the various aspects of their jobs so I was able to get a broad experience while at Police. I felt I was able to make my own small contribution to their work with my research skills which was very rewarding.
The opportunity to discuss experiences with the other clerks working across government means you get an understanding of not just your own placement, but theirs too. The workshops and other events are great at facilitating that discussion and it was valuable to hear about what working at different places in government is like.
I strongly encourage people to apply for the Programme. The chance to work in a government legal team while studying is hard to come upon and very rewarding. The GLN Programmes Team are really supportive throughout the whole process, from applications to while you’re working at your agency.
Ministry of Justice
I’ve been included in a range of interesting projects. These include long term projects such as adoption reform and the implementation of Te Au Reka in the Family Court, as well as short term, reactive tasks such as responding to OIA requests, Ministerials, and media requests. It’s been exciting to apply myself to areas I previously knew nothing about, and learn new, transferable skills.
I’ve really enjoyed working in the public service, and it’s highlighted that studying law doesn’t mean you need to work in a private sector law firm.
The absolute best part of the programme is the community and support you receive. Your manager and colleagues at your agency are all willing to help, but there’s also external support from the GLN Programmes Team and a great community of other Summer Clerks. There are a group of friends all going through similar challenges in different agencies, and it makes you feel less alone.
In saying that, another great thing about the GLN Summer Clerk Programme is the wide range of projects the other clerks work on. It’s amazing to discuss what we’ve been working on and hear the huge variety of responsibilities lawyers and advisors are given.
I’ve also enjoyed the tours we’ve been on. I’ve so far toured Parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Family Court. Despite studying in Wellington, it’s not often that you see the inside of a courtroom as a law student.
If you do think you’d like to work in the public service my best advice would be to go for it! Although spots in the programme are very competitive, you don’t need to have an A+ average or be a master in your agency’s area. I knew very little about family law before starting at MOJ and had never worked in a law firm or other agency. But I wasn’t expected to – the clerkship is an opportunity to learn new skills and apply yourself to interesting projects. Agencies are looking for interns who bring fresh perspectives, can communicate effectively, and are ultimately willing to get stuck in and try new things. If that sounds like you, you should consider applying!