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From a student job as a paralegal to a bar internship as a trainee lawyer. Meet lawyers Laura and Flore.

In September and October, many new trainee lawyers get started. Taking the oath marks the start of their bar traineeship. But some of them already have some legal experience under their belts. Not only knowledge acquired during a summer internship in the legal profession but also know-how as a paralegal throughout the academic year. Trainee lawyers Laura and Flore worked as paralegals at Nelissen Grade during their law studies and made the switch to law this year. Read on and learn more about their journeys.

Laura Arrazola de Oñate
- Corporate and business lawyer
- Paralegal for two years at Nelissen Grade
- Lives in Leuven
- Starts the day with a brisk morning run or cycle
Flore Pauwels
- Criminal, travel and liabilitylawyer
- Paralegal for seven months at Nelissen Grade
- Lives in Ham
- Relaxes during an evening with friends

A head start as a student paralegal
A student job as a paralegal at a law firm: Laura and Flore jumped at the chance during their law studies. This allowed them to find out if they were suited to the legal profession. ‘As a paralegal, you have almost the same responsibilities as a lawyer, but you don't go to court,’ said Laura. ‘Drafting letters, doing research, writing summonses, following up files, ... A plus, because this way you don't start from zero at the beginning of your bar traineeship.’

Flore confirmed that. ‘As a student paralegal, you get to know the law firm right away. You know how the team works, when you can schedule something in someone's agenda, how to discuss something with a partner, ... Not only do you gain more knowledge as a master’s law degree student, but you also get a look behind the scenes in a law firm.’

’As a student paralegal, you kind of roll into the job of alawyer. You do all the preparatory work without pleading and get to know the team straight away. You start yourlaw internshipwith an advantage.’
– Laura Arrazola de Oñate,trainee lawyer

A smooth transition to the legal profession
Starting as a trainee lawyer was, therefore, the logical next step for Laura and Flore. But how did they hear about Nelissen Grade? ‘During my Economics, Law and Business Administration master's, I had to do a compulsory internship. I started at Nelissen Grade and have been here ever since’, Laura laughed. Flore started working during a summer internship and afterwards applied for a job as a trainee lawyer. ‘At my job interview, I asked if I could work as a paralegal during the academic year. And they said yes!’

They are now working full-time as lawyers, and Flore has already had a first court appearance. ’Every court is different. Where should you stand? How do you sign in? In what order do the cases go? You learn so much as a trainee lawyer.’ Besides, no two days are the same when you’re working as a lawyer, according to Laura. ‘From disputes between companies about infringements of competition law to drafting agreements. Even within one branch of law, you have tons of variety.’

An open space, great colleagues and room to grow: welcome to Nelissen Grade
Both Laura and Flore became acquainted with the law firm Nelissen Grade at the job fair. They gained experience as student paralegals and stuck around for the bar internship. Why Nelissen Grade? ’Working at Nelissen Grade is a pleasure. You get a lot of freedom and constructive feedback and can always ask questions if you are stuck on something,’ Laura explained. ‘Also, after two years as a paralegal, I had already established a rapport. If somewhere is good, why change it?’

Flore confirmed that. ‘You get many opportunities to learn and develop yourself as a lawyer. For instance, I will soon start my Salduz training and will be able to attend my first hearings.’ The social aspect is also important. ‘The team events are fantastic. The paralegals were also invited to join the trip to Reims. Soon there will be a weekend in the Ardennes for the younger lawyers. That team culture is a real plus,’ Laura said.

’At Nelissen Grade, you are not just a number. Although it is a large law firm with different disciplines, there is a close-knit team atmosphere. You can always contact anyone: from associates to partners.’
– Flore Pauwels,trainee lawyer

If you are doing your master’s degree in law and want to gain some knowledge before starting your bar traineeship or want to discover if you are suited to the legal profession, contact Nelissen Grade