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Jessica Hwang: Path to Ashurst

Jessica Hwang head shot

“I was trying to differentiate between all the firms because on paper they all seem the same but being able to feel a connection with each of them was important to me.” 

When Jessica was in her penultimate year of studying Commerce and Law at the University of New South Wales, she was searching for internship opportunities within her field. She finds the intellectual rigor of commerce and law fulfilling and enjoys the diversity of skills she learns from the field. However, as such an expansive field, it was difficult to navigate the differences between all the firms. Finding a firm that best fit her was incredibly important to ensuring an exciting internship experience and future success in her career. 

That’s why when it came time to apply for clerkships, Jessica found Forage a super useful tool to navigate her way around the law firms offering clerkships. This allowed her to understand more about the profession she was planning to step into but also the culture at each of the unique firms (which is often difficult to discern from the outside!). Jessica decided to take the Ashurst Australia Virtual Experience Program and the King & Wood Mallesons Global Advanced Law Program, both providing her with upskilling opportunities and real insight into each firm.

“The programs are really great to give you an understanding about the firm, the practice areas that they have, and the type of work you may be given as a clerk.”

As the clerkship application process is super competitive, she wanted to do anything she could to stand out. “As I was applying for my clerkships, I was thinking ‘this could be a good opportunity to give myself a little boost in my applications, just to show them that I am keen to get to know the firm and willing to put in the work.’” 

Jessica notes how, on a practical level, completing these programs allowed her to connect with the firms in a way that most of the other candidates couldn’t. She got to experience “writing memos and letters” in the same manner that lawyers do at the firm. Knowing the kind of work completed and learning the skills necessary to succeed as a clerk was invaluable when facing such tough competition. 

The path to finally landing a clerkship with Ashurst was not easy.“The most challenging thing was that all the clerkship positions opened and closed at roughly the same time and I did [a number of] applications so persevering through those whilst completing my mid-semester assignments was challenging.”

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Finding her Place with Ashurst 

During her time at University, Jessica attended a firm presentation for Ashurst and was linked with a Graduate from the firm to help her throughout the application process. Already keen on pursuing a clerkship with Ashurst through her experience with their virtual experience program, she was really excited to be paired with an Ashurst graduate. This pairing helped her gain a further connection with the people at the firm and gave her first-hand insight into what the culture was like at Ashurst through the perspective of a current employee, “I think my connection with my buddy at Ashurst was a big motivator for me.”

Both the buddy system and the Ashurst Virtual Experience program gave Jessica a new perspective on the firm, one that she wouldn’t have otherwise had without these great opportunities. These opportunities ultimately led her to know that Ashurst was the right place for her to complete her clerkship. 

Advice from an Ashurst Intern

Jessica says she encourages other students to “do these virtual internships even if they do take a couple of days and you feel like they may be a waste of time, more often than not they will be beneficial to you. It will give you a connection and a little bit of insight into the differences between the different firms.” 

“The opportunity is there so why wouldn’t you take it.”

Connect with Jessica on Linkedin here.

Follow Forage on LinkedIn here.