Maritsa Quintal talks about her Legal Placements

As my second year of studying Law at the University of Essex drew to a close, I was excited to embark on the work experience placements set to commence within the following months. I was eager to learn whilst on placement because at this stage of my career I had only been conditioned to the law in theory and was yet to decipher whether the legal profession was the right career choice for myself in practice.

The opening salvo to my legal placement journey was a one-week internship at Bromley Council in the July of 2019. Despite its longevity, the Senior Solicitor ensured that I was busy. Diving right in, the week began with a mooting presentation whereby I argued the merit and shortcomings of the closure of a bridleway. This task was a turning point for me in my professional development as it highlighted a major skills gap, I did not know how to moot! Taking this failure in stride, I enrolled onto the University of Essex’s Mooting Competition and the Commercial Awareness Legal Risk Scheme to bridge this gap and since then not only my mooting skills have improved but also my confidence!

The penultimate days consisted of reviewing two cases. The former considered the deceased’s mental capacity as a factor in signing over a death grant to an external party with the administrative cost and time involved in assessing this. This reinforced the notion that Lawyers must address the ethicality of issues with care, yet sometimes the lines can blur, and hard choices have to be made. Nonetheless, this was of utmost importance to witness when comprehending whether Law is the right avenue to pursue.

My second placement at a Commercial Property Law Firm in Epping differed in its legal practice and experience. Despite the two and a half-hour commute from my house, I surprisingly preferred the practice of Land Law (rather than in theory!) more than Bromley Council’s heavy emphasis on Highway and Employment Law. I was allocated tasks ranging from carrying out due diligence on a property portfolio refinance to reviewing a property management contract for a substantial residential landlord. Additionally, I designed a flowchart which set out the steps involved when acting on behalf of the landlord on receipt of an application to assign a commercial lease. My favourite part of the placement was that as I completed tasks, the tasks assigned got more interesting and complex until by the end of the week I was dealing with solicitor accounts. Some of the points I raised on documents were used in negotiation meetings. This gave me a great sense of achievement. Moreover, Laura pointed out to me that working in smaller high street firms usually gives you more responsibility at an earlier stage in your legal career which I took into consideration when applying for firms.

Lastly, in November, I was invited to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to work in the Legal Department of a newly developing tourism project called The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), being one of the Public Investment Fund’s (PIF, being KSA’s Sovereign Wealth Fund) Vision 2030 Giga-Projects. The former part of the week consisted of reviewing documentation and analysing nuances in amended Non-Disclosure Agreements, other commercial agreements and attending training sessions as well as liaising with Dentons (a law firm), about procurement and construction matters, in which I took notes.  Significantly, the vast amount of international firms and companies involved in the project highlighted my desire to not only work on new and exciting deals like this in legal practice but my interest in pursuing an international secondment on my training contract. The most stimulating task assigned was around matters involving the special economic zone, announced in PIF’s Vision 2030 statement. See link: https://www.theredsea.sa/en/project/vision-and-pif.

Overall all three placements were significant in my professional development in different ways.  The first highlighted my skills gap, the second emphasised the desire to work in a corporate environment and the third that I most definitely want a job whereby I can travel. Now as a 2.1 graduate, I am keen to exercise the skills learnt from these placements and my three years of legal academia in a workplace. I am excited to see what the future holds!

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