A summer in the city that never sleeps

When I was at the stage of applying to university, Birmingham City University stood out because of the opportunity to complete an international internship in the United States of America. Being a cultural person, I would take any opportunity to travel throughout my legal and academic career; and now that I have done it – it’s something I would encourage every student to do.

The American internship not only furthers your knowledge in American Law, but also provides you with the skills and qualities that are relevant in the UK legal profession. Between June and August, I interned with a corporate firm in New York formally known as Spears & Imes LLP. The firm largely deals with white collar cases and complex civil litigation. During my internship, I engaged mostly with cases relating to securities enforcement and contractual disputes, although I also contributed to a drug and tax fraud case.

At first, I was unaware of what securities enforcement was all about. It was, therefore, quite challenging understanding some of the relevant law. However, I can now (confidently) say that securities enforcement involves cases where there has been a violation of regulations enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This may include insider trading, stealing a customer’s funds and so on. The area of law is complex, but very interesting. I was privileged to have observed one of the biggest trials to do with insider trading, that being the Rengan Rajaratnam case which took place in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.

I followed the trial for the last few days (up until the day prior to the verdict). The defendant’s lawyer was very impressive in the way he presented his arguments and responded to counter-arguments in court. As Senior Counsel for the external mooting team at Birmingham City University, this experience gave me a great insight of what improvements I can make in order to become a more persuasive advocate.

I also undertook a variety of tasks in the office, which included drafting, research, analysing and a lot of reading. An item of evidence I created was used in a trial, which ended in favour of the firm’s client. It was an amazing feeling to be recognised for my contributions in the case and I will always appreciate the firm for getting me involved. Further to this, I undertook a project which took approximately 3 days to complete with a paralegal at the firm. This involved an analysis of documents to then be cross-referenced with a chart, in order to point out any discrepancies. This task was an industrious task; however working with someone who was enthusiastic and supportive kept me going!

As well as the legal experience, it’s important to emphasise that I was able to embrace another culture and lifestyle. Spears & Imes LLP was not only amazing for the experience the firm gave me with regards to my legal skills, but they ensured I enjoyed my time in ‘the city that never sleeps.’ From authentic Japanese food to the best French mac and cheese New York could offer, everyone took me to the best restaurants, recommended the top places, introduced me to the New York addiction of iced coffee and made me feel at home from my very first day.

Outside of my working hours, I converted to a true tourist. There were so many attractions in New York, that it’s an everlasting list. My most enjoyable days were travelling down to Coney Island in Brooklyn, where the sand forced me into the air after two seconds, in an attempt of taking a simple photo. That alone explains the glorious sunshine in the city of New York. The views from the famous Empire State Building and Top of the Rock were mind blowing. You do not realise how huge the city is until you see it from above, as travelling between different parts of the city is so easy via subway. Even riding a bike from Harlem down to Brooklyn is not bad at all – but you just have to be mindful of the rush of taxis and herds of commuters and tourists crossing the roads every few minutes. I was also fortunate to visit New Jersey (which is not too far away) and Rhode Island. As for the first trip, I ventured off to Six Flags Adventure Park and Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s tour, which were both amazing! The latter, was a very relaxed and enjoyable wedding weekend.

Overall, my experience in New York is one I will never forget. It has already made an impact on my legal career with a result of further opportunities gained and increased my desire to obtain a job in the legal profession. I have now completed one of my lifetime goals thanks to the opportunity Birmingham City University offers to their students.

Overall, my experience in New York is one I will never forget. It has already made an impact on my legal career with a result of further opportunities gained and increased my desire to obtain a job in the legal profession. I have now completed one of my lifetime goals thanks to the opportunity Birmingham City University offers to their students.


The end of the road in NYC …

I am back and my journey in New York City is now complete. Well what can I say… it was the best summer I have ever had. Not only did I have the opportunity to further my knowledge and experience in law but I also explored the city that never sleeps; and it’s not just a silly quote. New Yorkers do not sleep which explains their obsession with black coffee to keep them awake all day.

The first thing every person asks me is ‘what was it like?’ and my response to that is ‘amazing!’ Living life in New York is not so simple, however the adventures, the views, the weather and atmosphere is what makes it what it is. I lived in a flat with one of my friends Rebecca at my Auntie’s house in Queens, Jamaica. Now I was told that Queens was not one of the best areas to stay, however I beg to differ. My stay in the borough of Queens was great. I lived on a block with the friendliest neighbours and it was such a quiet and relaxed area. I could be walking home at 12am from the local bus stop and feel safe. So I think I will stick with seeing things for myself lol.

My commute to work was long-winded, though I got so used to the journey that I no longer thought about how long it was. A 10-minute ride to the train station then an F train to Manhattan. Altogether it would take about 1hr 15mins to get to work without the trip to Starbucks or Essen for my morning snack or drink. Entering the building at 51 Madison Avenue on the 20th Floor, I would walk into my office take a seat, embrace the glorious view of the city and get ready to begin my day. That was the general routine for 6 weeks.

At first I was buzzing and had no issue with waking up for work in the mornings. However as the sun got hotter and my night’s sleep got shorter, I struggled each day to wake up. Though as soon as I got into work, I forgot I was even tired. Now don’t get me wrong there were days where I felt exhausted and thought to myself ‘how the heck am I going to get through the day?’ but there was always something I could do to help time pass by.

A day at work could never be predicted. Some days it would be quiet and other days there would be so much to do. From this experience I learnt that all the paperwork and filing that takes place (even before going to trial for example) could take a while. This was one of the many things I had learnt, and to be honest I do not think I would have gained such information without practical experience.

I could write pages telling you about my journey in the BIG APPLE and my days with the firm. Though I doubt you are expecting to read a novel. Please do however enjoy my final video blog for NYC.


Week 7

My New York journey will soon come to an end! Since finishing my internship last Friday I have been exploring the cities main attractions and have visited family. After experiencing all of these wonderful things, I have decided that I need to appreciate my own city much more than I do. So what have I experienced? 

Saturday I made my way to the Bronx Zoo. Now I haven’t been to the zoo for a very long time so I was in many ways excited to go. However (not to kill the mood or anything) I hadn’t realised how unsettling it would be to see some of the animals living in such a limited space, and it was more upsetting to see how skinny the tiger was :(. I guess when you get older the little details become more visible. Despite that, it was a beautiful day: the sun was shining and it felt so great to just relax and not worry about going to bed early. 

Although I did end up waking up pretty early just to make the most of each day. Empire state building, top of the rock, statute of liberty, ellis island, speedboat, cinema, madame tussauds, 9/11 tribute and memorial museum – we done it all. As well as experiencing such great things I feel privileged (as always) to appreciate a culture different to my own. 

As I keep on saying New York has been everything I expected it to be, and at no point have I been disappointed. This has not only been an academic experience but also a life experience for me. It’s funny because from young I have always dreamed of coming to New York for a lengthy stay and to any young person wishing for many things: pursue your dreams, there is no limit because the world is your oyster. 

6 days left and there is still more for me to see! As promised from the very beginning, you will all remain updated with my daily activities in New York City! 


Week 6

So it has been so hectic, that I have fallen behind a little on my blog updates! Well, my last week was busy and therefore went quite quick. From Wednesday through to Friday I was working on a project with one of the paralegals at the firm. This involved me observing large charts with little writing and matching up the information to back up files provided. This kept me occupied but it was quite tiring at some parts, and made me seem as if I was going a little crazy! lol 

It was quite sad to leave the firm on Friday. That day I went to lunch with a few of my colleagues and had a lovely lunch at a French restaurant called Artisinal. Oh my the food was delicious; especially the mac & cheese which I am definitely going to attempt when I get back to the UK. Now I can cook up a pretty good mac & cheese but this one was out of this world. 

This summer has by far been the best summer! Everyone at the firm has been so welcoming, which has made my trip worthwhile. On the Thursday I again went out with my colleagues and was treated to a sandwich from Potbelly and an oatmeal cookie. The BEST cookie you can have. It literally melts in your mouth – ahhh it’s good! 

Many people travel the world and forget about those they have met. However I will always remember this experience, and anytime I am back in New York I will make a trip to visit Spears & Imes and the wonderful people there. 

Despite the expenses of this trip, it has been worth every penny! I have just under 2 weeks here left and I am definitely going to miss the city. This week so far I have been to the Bronx Zoo, Madam Tussaud’s and the Empire State Building. Today I am off to Coney Island to enjoy some more rides and soak in some sun. So look out for more posts and pictures! 



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Week 5

The highlight of this week has to be my weekend! Thursday afternoon I made my way to Rhode Island for a family wedding on the Friday. Although it took us at least 2 and a half to three hours, I can’t actually say it was a long journey because I fell asleep so it felt like a 20minute journey instead. Once I reached to my destination, it felt so good to arrive and reunite with my sister-in-laws family who I met in April. 

Anyways fast forwarding to the next day. Despite me going to bed at around 1am I still managed to wake up early in the morning (which wasn’t my intention) as the wedding did not start until the afternoon. So I woke up had some honey nut cheerios which was yummy, followed by some salt fish and rice a couple hours later 🙂 At first time was going slow, but once I actually begun to get ready it went so quickly. Well it eventually got to 2:45pm and we made our way to the church. What can I say, the ceremony was lovely and the bride looked beautiful. The day as a whole was great, and I had the best table for the reception. I love a good laugh and I laughed the night away, and I love to dance and I done some of that too. I can now say that I know the wobble dance, which I was unaware of last week when everyone was doing it at the concert. So the day was amazing, the weather was nice and I generally had a great time. Exhausted? Yes. But it was worth it. 

So the next day was the day I had to go back to NY :(. However I couldn’t do that without attending the cook out. But before that we went to eat brunch at Sacotash (have no idea whether I have spelt it right but hey ho) – I had fried chicken and waffles! Yes, it sounds strange! And I always thought it was disgusting to mix the two, but ohh my it was amazing! I was starving before I entered but I can guarantee you that the food will put you to sleep because its so good! Despite me being belly full – I couldn’t resist the food at the cook out. I am telling you since living (temporarily) in the US my appetite has gotten bigger. Even now – I have eaten my dinner yet I am still hungry. So for that reason alone I might just rummage through the fridge and help myself to some cake lol. 

Anyhow, long story short I had a great weekend and back to work tomorrow which potentially is my last week with the firm. It has been a great experience and I have learnt so many things, but after this week I look forward to seeing more family members and being a true tourist and exploring the rest of New York City! I apologise for the lack of photos/videos in this post – none has been uploaded yet however they will be coming soon. 


Week 4

It’s week 4 and I am absolutely exhausted! I don’t know whether I am feeling this way after the extreme activities over the weekend, or simply due to the lack of sleep. Now when I say lack of sleep (this is not by choice). I initially go to bed between 10 and 11pm, which gives me enough sleep as I get up at 7am. But over the past few days I have been waking up at 4am for no particular reason what so ever. I manage to get back to sleep, but essentially my nice long sleep is ruined. Anyways, this week has been okay. It hasn’t been extremely busy nor has it been dead quiet, however either way if there is nothing for me to do I use my spare time to update my blogs, journals and complete applications.

However this week I have carried out task different to ones I have done in the past. I started the week on Tuesday as I went to the closing for the Rajratnam trial where he was found to be not guilty. In my head I thought that’s what the jury would decide: the defense counsel was very good with how he presented his arguments and the evidence he used for support. So on Tuesday, I was given videos to watch and compare in relation to my findings of a transcript followed by a write up of my discussion with an Attorney. This was my first written piece of work, however I have realised (after reviewing and editing so many documents), I have developed better writing skills :). 

So I have just finished proof-reading and editing documents for an Attorney at the firm. Now looking at the time it has taken me a while to do! Proof-reading is one of a few tasks I am not fond off, however it is one of the most important things to do when finalisng important documents. And it’s for that reason why I appreciate the firms trust in giving me work to proof-read for them. As well as that I had to make some additional changes to the file (and I assume further work will need to be done soon).

The reason why I am blogging about this week now, is because I don’t see me having the time to do so on the weekend! This is because I am going to see BEYONCE and JAY-Z at the Met Life Stadium in New Jersey. Ohhh I cannot wait for this!! So between now and then, I need to make sure I have a good nights sleep and loads of rest. Because there will be a lot of dancing, clapping, waving side to side and screaming (let’s just hope I don’t lose my voice) lol.

There is literally only 3-weeks left of my internship. It has gone so fast (I cannot believe it). I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends sooo much. It literally feels like forever (considering I only came back to London for a week then jetted off again!).

I warn you from now, look forward to the footage and pictures that I shall capture over the weekend. But for now enjoy your evening, whilst I sit here enjoying the day at work!


Week 3

This week has been one of the best weeks! Why? I have been able to sit in on a big case i.e. the Rajaratnam case (if you google it you will see). This has been such a great opportunity, and I am grateful that the firm has allowed me to visit the trial on several occasions. I cannot expose anything that has been said, however I can say that despite the topic being very complex the trial has been very interesting. I will be going to the final day tomorrow from 8am, which should be a challenge (to get up in the morning) but will be worth it.

Other than that, I had the opportunity to go see ‘Cripple of an Inishmann’ starring Daniel Radcliffe with Masi and two of my colleagues at the firm. This was amazing, the story and the quality of acting was great! The one thing I was more shocked by however is the prices for a packet of M&Ms … 5 dollars I paid. If my belly wasn’t grumbling as much, I am telling you I would have given that a pass. Anyways, so that was a great experience!

On Tuesday I had lunch with the Paralegals and one of the Attorneys at the firm. They are all so friendly and bubbly, I don’t look forward to saying goodbye to anyone at the firm in a few weeks time :(. And one thing I can say, is that they all know where all the good spots are to eat, so when I have been taken out to lunch I have been eating very well.

So I thought to myself, what could possibly be better than a great week at work, great food, entertainment and great people at work? Well it got better. Friday was 4th July – yes, the weather was absolutely horrible but it cleared up in the night and the fireworks were amazing. We were standing quite far back from the display (as there were thousands of people there to celebrate America’s Independence Day), yet I could still feel the impact of the booms and the bangs as it made my body vibrate in some kind of weird way lol. The only thing that sucks is that we couldn’t find anywhere to go and party after because (1) we weren’t locals so had no idea where we was going and (2) the age barrier!! If only I was 21 now *sigh*. So because of that, the 4th July ended there.

But don’t feel bad yet, we then decided to go to Six Flags Great Adventure the next morning. Okay, so I would be described as a thrill-seeker but I can honestly say that these roller coasters challenged me very well! I was being thrown 225ft in the year, jumping of the highest poles and flying in the air at 90mph. Zooming down dips that made me feel as if my belly was about to come out of my mouth. But do you know what, after the screaming of joy and the screaming of fear, I would go and do all of it again! It was the best weekend in the USA so far. The sun was beaming, music playing and just such a lovely festive atmosphere. Now I sit here on a Sunday afternoon chilling (which is what I need after all of this excitement).

So I am doing great and having the best time ever in NYC! I do miss my family and friends and do look forward to coming home in August, but for now I will continue to enjoy my time here!