Friday, July 15, 2016

Within a few days of getting settled in, I realised that Amicus was far from the intimidating place I thought it’d be. First off, without exaggeration, it was (please excuse the pun) the most amicable place you could work at. The office was small and had a rather family-like atmosphere. 

Amicus is without a doubt a very small legal charity, but for its size, the scale of its efforts and impact are considerable. It helps grievously under-resourced defence lawyers in the US with casework, spreads awareness about such issues and sends interns abroad to help with the laborious task of giving a hand to those appealing for their lives. For someone still pursuing their undergraduate studies, I felt immensely lucky to have been given the chance to support their work.

The most interesting part of my internship involved processing casework, and it gave me an insight into what sort of work I’d be doing were I to do the US internship. The work involved proofreading and transcribing documents, which  could include witness or suspect interview transcripts and police reports. This offered me a glimpse into the years of work that dozens of people ranging from students and pro-bono lawyers to American lawyers back in the States were putting into each case.

There were more generic administrative tasks too. Florence and Maroshini put a lot of thought into the sort of things that interns could do to help them enjoy their time at Amicus. These included making a timeline for the website and drafting letters to prisoners. There were also less colourful tasks, like updating the membership database and helping to arrange guest lists for events. But these tasks did make me feel I was contributing to the bigger picture. I came to realise the truly integral role that interns play in all sides of the running of the charity.

For such a small organisation, there was a surprising number of perks to this role, for example movie nights hosted by Amicus at partner law firms. On another occasion, there was an outing for free ice-cream from Ben & Jerry’s, after which for some reason I was stuck with a smug smile! As their office is located in Baker & McKenzie, interns can use the canteen and I enjoyed the cheap but delicious coffee, couscous, and cake! The homemade cake in particular made a memorable impression - even the names made my mouth water: Double Chocolate Oreo cake, Banana Caramel cake and, my favourite, Dark Chocolate Guinness cake. Perhaps to regurgitate Churchill: Never in the field of my various work experiences, had I experienced so much joy and eaten so much cake, for so little.

The internship spread over the last months of my undergraduate studies and at the time I did struggle to effectively balance everything, largely due to my last-minute style of revision. But having achieved a high 2.1., if anyone were to ask me if this was worth it, I would say “definitely yes”. Why? As a student or even a recent graduate, it’s quite difficult to get a glimpse of what working in an office would be like, let alone what it may be like to do the US internship. Also, if you’re interested in law and human rights, doing a London office internship would be a great place to start. My time at Amicus certainly was just that, and I feel privileged to have been part of it.