So it has now been one week that I have been in Sri Lanka and I am enjoying my time very much. I'm becoming a bit more accustomed to the weather, though I doubt I'll ever be fully used to it!
So far I have become familiar with the home and office environment and yesterday I had my first visit to the court complex in Negombo. I have also been exposed to various areas of the law; namely penal code, drugs ordinance, IP law and some family law. I have also been working on research project that looks at comparing the constitutions of Australia and Sri Lanka.
At the weekend I had some time to chill out and relax a little. I also attended birthday celebrations of Godfrey- lovely of the family to invite me to an intimate family event. During last week I took a trip down south to attend a Buddhist funeral with them.
This weekend I am planning on taking a trip to the mountain region around Kandy and Ella. So all in all I have done quite a bit in just the week I have been here and I am doing well.
Most Memorable Moment: There were a number of things I will always remember. It's hard to select just one. From working with Godfrey (as well as the other lawyers) and sharing their knowledge and experience, to being involved with the family and their life to travelling throughout Sri Lanka a bit. For me, these are all equal that cumulatively gave me an outstanding experience.
Biggest Achievement: Completing and having published my article, "Comparison of Executive Powers Between Sri Lanka and Australia."
Information Improvements: The information was detailed and comprehensive. It would help though to have some of it updated.
Project Improvements: I don't think so. It was well run. Also when in Rome, be Roman! It's good to go with the flow of a different culture to see where it takes you.
TOWARDS THE END OF JESSICA'S PLACEMENT:
What experience do you feel you are gaining?
For me this answer is two-fold. There is first the legal experience and then there is the Sri Lanka experience. So far I have gained an insight into the real workings of a law firm in Sri Lanka. From the cases, to the clients, to the work environment and the dynamics between colleagues. On another level I have also been exposed to actual law and its similarities and differences it shares with other jurisdictions. This is both from a historical perspective (English common law and Roman-Dutch law) and a contemporary perspective (for example the Companies Act based on NZ law).
The Sri Lanka experience has been a mash of living like a local in a residential area (Kandana) during the week and then travelling around the island taking in a few of the tourist hotspots during weekends. Both have been wonderful experiences. The gain has been in learning the ways of another culture and what they value and appreciate.
What is the best thing about your placement so far?
I honestly can’t point to a best thing as yet. There have been lots of highlights; being invited to and attending birthday celebrations, attending court and travelling to Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Galle have been some of them. Sometimes simple things can also be a highlight; tasting a new fruit and meeting some wonderful people.
Would you recommend this placement to anyone else?
What type of person do you think this placement would suit?
Someone interested in law/legal environment and who loves to travel. An open mind and a sense of adventure is also essential to get the most out of the internship.
What, if any, improvements could be made to the placement?
I think a lot of work has gone into making this a great programme already. Perhaps the only thing is that some of the pre-departure information. This was only minor but consistency does help.
Was there anything that you weren’t told before your departure that you think future interns should know?
Maybe worthwhile being told it is possible to get a SIM card at the airport, that way you have one before getting to the city and are able to be in communication both locally when being picked up and back home to let family know you have arrived. Ultimately though this is a new country/culture for most and learning differences comes with a bit of time.
Can you describe a typical day?
Wake at about 6.00 am where I usually talk/communicate to family back in Australia as is mid-morning for them. Get ready for work at the interns’ house. Leave interns’ house at 7:30am to go walk across the main house for breakfast. Leave for work by car between 8am and 8:30. Arrive at the office by 9am.
Days can vary but usually the lawyers are in court at least for the morning. Interns either go to court with them or remain in the office and work (usually work either on a research or article piece as assigned). Lunch (prepared by Mrs Cooray) is had around 1 – 1:30pm. Eaten with other interns and lawyers.
Afternoon can involve a “lecture” (chat about the law) with one of the lawyers, further research and sometimes may involve an outing (e.g. we went to Gampaha last week to do a stamp duty transaction). Work day usually finishes by 4:30/5pm.
Travel back to Kandana; where afternoon tea is had around 5 or 5:30pm. Some free time/leisure time. The family is tennis-mad so plays every afternoon. Interns invited to play however I have not as I don’t know the first thing about tennis. Dinner is then at the main house about 7:30/8pm. Sometimes we will also have a chat with whoever might be around. Then evening bedtime. Overall the work environment (and Sri Lanka in general) is quite flexible and relaxed. Nothing is too strenuous and some things are open to change or negotiation.
Any other comments? (This will help us to maintain or improve the standard of our placements).
I found the placement to be very rewarding so far and I think it is well implemented. There is nothing glaringly obvious that should be changed. The family and lawyers are generous and easy to talk with (as are Sri Lankans in general) so there’s not really much that cannot be discussed as it arises.