As I seek to achieve professionalism in my career, I have come to appreciate the importance of entrenching the concept of learning by doing. The rationale behind adopting this approach is to identify areas of personal strengths and weaknesses by engaging in real-life legal situations. Subsequently, I enrolled as an intern in a local law school, a move that provided me with an opportunity to encounter real-life legal situations with clients. As an intern, I expected to gain critical insights into areas that should be I needed to adjust in an effort to fast-track my career progression. One of the areas that I intended to improve in was my ability to establish and maintain a strong collaborative relationship with clients. I was under the impression that realising this goal would go a long way in improving my ability to provide satisfactory services to my clients by ensuring that I optimally undertook all the roles and responsibilities that I was assigned to. Therefore, I am of the view that a reflective learning approach will prove crucial in significantly improving the probability of progressing through my intended career path.
This paper details the reflective log with reference to my experience as a legal intern working in collaboration with my partner in law school, advising clients on different issues. The reflective log is based on Gibb’s reflective cycle, which is comprised of different stages that include description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion, and action plan. The reflective log entails a diary or a journal that details an individual’s experiences and emotions with reference to certain issues or events encountered.
During my internship program at a local law firm, I encountered two main clients. The first client was a married woman, who required legal advice on ownership and disposal of family property. The lady claimed that her husband had sold the house in which they lived without her consent. I was able to offer my client advice on her legal interest over the property by clearly illustrating the existence of legal and equitable interests with reference to property ownership and disposal of family property.
The second experience related to a middle-aged man who had taken payment protection insurance (PPI) but was unable to repay the loan. However, the insurer did not fully repay the claim which made the bank continuously harass the client in an effort to ensure repayment of the loan. In offering consultancy service to the client, I was able to advice the client to seek legal redress against the insurance company for breach of statutory duty because it failed to fully disclose the features of its PPI.
The experience encountered in offering consultancy services to the two clients led to the development of a mixture of feelings. I was of the opinion that the issues presented were complex and beyond my capacity to successfully address them. Considering this was my first encounter with real-life legal issues, I was clearly nervous. This feeling of uneasiness was triggered by the fact that I was uncertain of whether the client would achieve the intended level of satisfaction from the legal counsel offered. Nevertheless, I was able to successfully apply the knowledge gained earlier from a local citizen advice bureau. My earlier participation in a client interview competition, which entails a mock meeting with a potential client, undertaken in the course of the module greatly improved my confidence in meeting the client. Additionally, I also felt confident of dealing with the complexity inherent in the issues presented by applying the knowledge gained from my previous participation in a mooting competition.
By applying the knowledge gained from the mooting competition and the mock interview, I successfully established a positive relationship with the client, and this enabled me to develop a comprehensive understanding of all the facts inherent in the issues presented. By depicting a high level of confidence in dealing with the issues, I was able to adopt a neutral and objective position. This proved essential in enabling me to successfully conduct an interview with the client. After a careful examination of the underlying facts on the respective issues and relating them to law, I was able to offer the client sound advice on the fundamental issues that they could take into consideration in dealing with the problem facing them. The client felt satisfied with the legal advice offered, which further contributed to their development of a feeling of satisfaction, contentment, and accomplishment over my capacity to apply legal knowledge to real-life situations. Moreover, I was happy that my understanding and interpretation of the law in resolving the issues was based on precedence by applying legal precedent.
The process of offering the requisite consultancy services to the two clients was very effective. During the initial phases, I experienced significant difficulty in establishing a relationship with the client. This hindered the success with which I obtained precise information from the client. However, after a series of interactions with the clients, I was able to improve the relationship substantially. The importance of establishing a positive relationship with the client is underlined by Witzel who affirms that ‘establishing a new relationship with the client requires commitment from both sides. In establishing the relationship, I focused on ensuring that the relationship was founded on trust. Various ethical issues were considered. First, I assured the clients that a high level of integrity would be observed by ensuring that the information provided remains confidential. This meant that I would not divulge to other parties the information provided by clients without their consent.
The relationship with my client was based on consent and as such, I desisted from asking questions that would infringe on their personal life. Additionally, I enhanced the process of offering consultancy services through the integration of an effective communication process. During the consultative meeting, it was ensured that effective two-way communication was established. This was aimed at ensuring that all the parties were adequately engaged during the consultation process. Open communication provided the client and me an opportunity to reflect on the facts presented and seek further clarification where necessary. By adopting the reflective practitioner approach, which emphasises the importance of establishing a relationship with the client, I was able to successfully provide the clients with a viable solution that they could adopt in dealing with the issues at hand.
Even though I was successful in offering the client the intended legal advice, I still encountered a number of challenges. First, I faced significant difficulty in relating the issues presented to common law. This difficulty arose from the fact that I did not have adequate knowledge of the common law. As a law student, I was conscious of the importance of ensuring that legal counsel is not only founded on opinion but is supported by common law cases. Therefore, I experienced significant difficulty in employing the doctrine of binding precedent which ensures the preservation of justice. However, after a careful evaluation of the facts presented, I was successful in identifying relevant common law cases applicable to each of the clients.
In the process of providing legal counsel to the lady regarding the ownership and disposal of the family house, I was able to cite the case of Bull v Bull  1QB 234 (CA), in which a mother and her son contributed towards the purchase of a house but only the son was registered as the legal owner. In making a ruling over the case, the court argued that the son was holding the property in the trust of her mother. Therefore, despite the fact that the house was registered under the husband’s name, he was holding the property in the trust of her wife. By citing legal cases relevant to the issue faced, I was able to enhance that the client understands the feasibility of the legal advice provided. This was achieved by ensuring that the client understood the prevalence of legal interest and equitable interest with reference to property ownership. Interests in land or property refer to the rights and duties of an individual over a property. This arises from the fact that the client was able to understand the rationality of the advice offered. Moreover, the level of satisfaction achieved by the woman was further enhanced by the fact that I was able to successfully explain the extent of her legal interest in the matrimonial house. This was achieved by citing the case of William & Glyn’s Bank Limited v Boland  AC 487 which underlines individual’s rights in situations of property co-ownership. Under the concept of equitable interests, all the co-owners of a particular property have adequate protection against actions of a co-owner who might act in a way that might severe the co-ownership relationship.
Similar to the first client, the second client was equally satisfied with the legal counsel offered. His satisfaction arose from the fact that I was able to successfully underline the responsibility of the insurer towards the client in issuing the PPI and how the insurer was in breach of duty by failing to disclose all relevant information relating to the PPI policy. In illustrating this insurer’s legal obligation, I was able to relate to the case of the British Bankers Association v the Financial Services Authority. This case arose from the bank’s conduct in mis-selling payment protection. In making a ruling over the case, the court argued that the bank was in breach of duty by mis-selling the PPI to the client. Therefore, the client made the decision to purchase the PPI on the basis of the information provided which was inadequate. Subsequently, the bank was obliged to fully pay the client as stipulated under the PPI. Moreover, I was able to cite the case of Saville V Central Capital Limited  EWCA Civ 337 in which the Court of Appeal ruled that the credited broker, Central Capital Limited, was liable for breaching its statutory duty of complying with the rules stipulated under the Insurance Conduct of Business.
The internship program at the law school further contributed to the development of personal awareness with reference to my team-working capability. One of the problems that I noted entails challenges to foster an effective team-working relationship with my partner. The challenge arose from the fact that I was very domineering during the process of interviewing the client. The failure to give my partner a fair chance to interview the clients made him feel irritated, which affected the working relationship. However, after identifying my partner's reaction to my behaviour, I was able to make the necessary adjustment by ensuring that questions to the clients were asked in turn. This approach significantly contributed to improvement in the working relationship and teamwork.
Attending law school was very valuable in my quest to achieve professional and personal development. The issues encountered provided critical insight into my personal strengths and weaknesses. One of the areas of weakness that I noted relate to my capability to entrench effective communication with clients. However, I was able to entrenching a two-way communication approach. As a result of the two-way communication approach, I succeeded in nurturing a positive collaboration with clients and my partner hence enhancing the level of understanding on the clients’ needs. The experience further created insight on my skills with reference to analysing issues in order to understand the fundamental aspects. Development of analytical skills will significantly contribute to the ability to apply logic in resolving issues.
Despite my success in providing the client's sound advice, I recognised the need to improve my skills with reference to the application of the doctrine of legal precedence. The experience was very valuable in my quest to enhance my skills and knowledge on how to deal with complex legal issues. In spite of the fact that I was able to successfully apply the concept of contracting by identifying the elements of contracting and the issues that can lead to a breach of contract, I will focus on developing adequate knowledge with reference to contracting. This arises from the fact that the issues presented the required application of knowledge learned in the class setting in real-life experience.
To enhance my professional and personal development, I will focus on addressing a number of areas. First, I will undertake an extensive review of cases in order to improve my ability to relate issues faced with past cases. In reviewing the cases, I will ensure that I adopt a broad approach by examining cases of different nature and from different jurisdictions. This approach will remarkably improve my ability to effectively and efficiently offer legal council to different clients. In addition to the above aspects, I will focus on improving my interpersonal skills. This aspect will play an essential role in enhancing my capacity to establish and maintain relationships with clients and a team-working relationship. To ensure that the above issues are achieved, I will ensure that I continuously review my performance in dealing with different issues that might be encountered at both personal and professional levels. By implementing the above action plan, I will significantly enhance the likelihood of progressing through the intended future career path. Moreover, I will be able to learn from experiences.
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