Exclusive internship empowering future leaders

Tue 28 September 2021

By Hanna Jez


Established in 2020, the joint Herbert Smith Freehills CIBEL Asia-Pacific Pathway Program of Herbert Smith Freehills and UNSW Law and Justice’s China International Business and Economic Law (CIBEL) Centre (Pathway Program) has proven its success in developing hard-working law students into experienced professionals. This program consists of a paid internship at leading global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills for up to four UNSW Law and Justice students.

Students use their two-week break between Terms 1 and 2 to gain vital practical legal experience at Herbert Smith Freehills. This is a unique opportunity for successful applicants to be train and collaborate with expert legal minds, receiving professional support every step of the way in the firm’s Sydney, Hong Kong or Shanghai offices.

This is also a valuable opportunity in the current environment. Adapting to the pandemic has disrupted the way we teach and learn, and has reshaped the experience of studying - domestically or abroad. The Pathway Program ensures that during this time, students are still provided with quality education and experiences.

Four students completed their internships at Herbert Smith Freehills in May 2021. Two of the students - Cherry Tang and Tracy Gan - have recounted their experiences being trained by a globally recognised law firm and networking with some of the best professionals in the business.

Cherry Tang is a fifth year LLB/Criminology student at the University of New South Wales, who worked locally from the Herbert Smith Freehill’s Sydney office during the internship.

Cherry was interested in the Pathway Program after hearing about it from her classmates. She found the prospect of its international opportunities. She liked the idea that successful applicants were offered the opportunity to work both domestically in HSF Australia offices and globally in their Hong Kong and Shanghai offices. This opportunity perfectly aligned with her goals to work in a global enviornment.

For two weeks, Cherry worked at the Herbert Smith Freehills Sydney office within their dispute resolution team. She was assigned a buddy upon arrival as her ‘first point of contact’, attended a diverse range of networking and training sessions with a new practice group each time, and was encouraged to work on the same projects as her colleagues in the dispute resolution team. There She reported that there was a strong sense of collaboration and team-work within the firm, as the teams within Australia worked closely with their offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Cherry described her colleagues and the Herbert Smith Freehills Sydney firm as ‘driven, welcoming, and diverse in terms of their intellectual interests and temperament’ and said her time at the Herbert Smith Freehills Sydney office has strengthened her interest in commercial legal problem-solving and ultimately confirmed her ‘desire to work in such a global and intellectually driven environment after graduation.’

Cherry provided a testimony detailing her experience as an intern for Herbert Smith Freehills Sydney.

A final note from Cherry, for future applicants says:

‘I highly recommend anyone to apply to this Program. Don’t hesitate just because you do not have experience working in city firms. There is a first time for everything, and the only advice I could give regarding the application process is to be yourself, demonstrate intellectual curiosity, and exhibit genuine passion to learn and grow as a top legal and commercial thinker.’

Tracy Gan, a first year Juris Doctor student who is currently studying remotely from Shenzhen, China, completed her two-week internship in the Herbert Smith Freehills Shanghai Office, and recorded the unforgettable experience in her vlog, available in English and Chinese.

Similarly to Cherry, Tracy also had a buddy and a supervisor for the duration of her internship who provided guidance, support, and mentored her throughout her time at HSF Shanghai. Tracy commended the senior colleagues in the firm who provided her with clear instructions and explanations on her job, and also gave her clear and detailed feedback on her work.

Tracy’s horizons were broadened and her skills improved during her time in the Shanghai office as the Herbert Smith Freehills team handled high volumes of cases - many of which involved multiple jurisdictions. The firm also provided interns with invaluable career advice - inviting Herbert Smith Freehills partners and graduates to share their stories of career development. Finally, the internship gave Tracy the opportunity to network, which resulted in her establishing useful contacts in the law industry.

Tracy reflected on her time at the Herbert Smith Freehills Shanghai office, and acknowledged that the opportunity will serve as a great benefit for her future in law -

‘As a current law student, their advice has saved me from a lot of closed doors and road blocks in the future.’

As a few words of encouragement to apply for the Pathway Program in 2022, Tracy says

‘This internship is very different from internships provided by other law firms’ and acknowledges the Program paved the way for her to explore the legal profession through a practical lense, ultimately helping her discover the areas of law she truly enjoys and wants to practice.

Read Tracy's full testimonial here.

Both Cherry and Tracy’s experiences showcase how our Herbert Smith Freehills CIBEL Asia-Pacific Pathway Program provides support, shapes careers, and instills passion in interns by providing guidance, networking and practical experience to its participants. Not only will students receive invaluable advice, develop foundational skills, and observe how a world-renowned law firm operates - it will be a remarkable life-experience which has the potential to shape student’s future endeavours.

For more information about the Herbert Smith Freehills CIBEL Asia-Pacific Pathway Program can be found here. Key dates for the 2022 Pathway Program will be released in the next few weeks on the CIBEL News page.