Matthew Gold & Co welcomes new interns

This month we welcome two new interns to Matthew Gold & Company as part of the University of Sussex First Generation Scholars scheme: Remi Gibbons and Hollie Tompkins.

The scheme offers financial support for students with a household income under £42,875 per year, plus non-financial benefits to all students who are the first person in their family to go to university. This includes University-funded 10-week summer internships for second-year undergraduate First Generation students, paying a minimum of the (real) Living Wage.

MG & Co Director Maria O’Connell said: “As a legal aid firm we are acutely aware that with cuts to legal aid and a difficult graduate employment climate many young aspiring lawyers are turning their backs on a legal aid career. It is a huge shame.

“There are very few schemes offering support for paid legal internships and Sussex should be truly commended for putting such an important first step in place. We would be unlikely to be able to participate without the financial support underlying the scheme because of the resources required to train new staff.

“It is symbiotic; our interns gain relevant experience to aid their future employability, while the firm gains greater staff capacity during the busy summer months and a new set of able students and graduates to support our lawyers. Interns bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm to the workplace, so it is a win win situation for the interns and the firm.”

“I am really proud that so many of our interns have succeeded in either securing work with us post graduation or elsewhere.”

Claire Colburn from the University of Sussex Careers and Employability Centre said: “Paid internships make sure employers are accessing all talent, rather than just people who can afford not to be paid for a period of time. We want to make sure money is not a barrier to work, and with university backing the students can be confident the placements have been vetted and are high quality. It’s all about levelling the playing field.”

2017 is Matthew Gold & Co’s third year of involvement with the scheme, with six interns coming through our doors during this time, so we want to celebrate and promote these talented young people and the opportunities that internships offer for developing the young legal aid sector. Meet some of our past and current interns below and find out what the scheme means to them.

Go to www.sussex.ac.uk/careers/aboutus/firstgeneration to find out more about the scheme.

HOLLIE TOMPKINS

Hollie Tompkins grew up in Milton Keynes and is going into her third year at Sussex. Hollie said:

“The reason I decided to study Law at university is because I think Law influences almost every part of our world. From simple everyday actions to the complex governing of each state, law is intertwined into everything we do; it is a well respected and extremely vast profession, and such a useful degree to gain.

“I think the placement at Matthew Gold & Co is extremely important in broadening my legal knowledge, experience and skills. It will give a realistic insight into the workings of a law firm, not only for the average week (as the majority of placements last) but the whole of the summer holidays. Funding from the university is really helpful! I would not be able to personally afford to undertake ten weeks of invaluable experience, unpaid.”

REMI GIBBONS

Remi Gibbons grew up in Bexleyheath and is also a second year Law undergraduate at Sussex. She said:

“I’m hoping for practical experience – a lot of what we do at Uni is looking at court judgements and so on, which is useful but doesn’t really give you a feel for what it’s like working in a legal environment. I’m also hoping it will help me to find a good job in future. I definitely couldn’t have taken up an internship unless it was funded so that’s really important.”

LIAM ORTON

Liam Orton was Matthew Gold & Co’s first undergraduate intern from the First Generation Scheme. He interned in Summer 2015 and has worked part time at the Brighton office since then. He joins the firm full time from 1 July 2017. Liam said:

“Compared to most vacation schemes which last 2 weeks, I was able to spend 10 weeks getting involved in real legal work at MG & Co and gain a greater understanding of whether a job in the legal sector was the right move for me.

“As a mature student I worked the summer months to supplement my incomings for the forthcoming university year. With maintenance grants scrapped in the last 12 months it is becoming increasingly difficult for students to cope financially without a paid job during the summer months. As such I would have been unable to take up a 10 week unpaid internship.

“I think paid internships are extremely important, particularly for students who are first generation scholars without contacts within the legal sphere. If the industry is serious about tackling issues of diversity within legal recruitment, it is vital that opportunities are accessible to everyone, not just those who have the means to work for free.

“I intend to add to the experience I’ve already gained at MG & Co by going full time at the firm in July to develop a greater understanding of civil litigation. In the long term I wish to qualify as a solicitor or legal executive so that I may represent clients in litigation.

“To any students considering an internship I’d say go for it! If you are considering a career in law there are few better ways to establish whether law is the right move for you.”

ANOUSHA VASANTHA

Anousha also interned with Matthew Gold & Co, after graduating from Sussex University with a high 2:1 in 2015 and is now working at an IP firm in central London. Anousha said:

“The internship was an excellent opportunity to enter the legal industry after university. I was able to gain exposure to areas of law I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to experience. Working at Matthew Gold & Co provided me with the opportunity to apply some of the knowledge gained throughout my degree in a more practical context. I learnt so much about the civil litigation process and provided me with first hand experience on claims against public authorities.

“If the internship was unpaid it would have been slightly difficult due to the fact I was travelling by train from my home in South West London. In a highly competitive market, it is sometimes difficult to land that first stepping stone onto the legal industry so I was very pleased to have been given the opportunity to work at Matthew Gold & Co. “