Christopher Hamilton: At INTEGRITES I got an understanding of the inside world of law - the things you don’t see in films and on TV
Meet Christopher Hamilton – a 3rd year British student majoring in Russian and Spanish Linguistics who is thinking to continue his education in International Law. Read on to find out why linguistics student from the UK chose INTEGRITES, a law firm in Ukraine, for internship and how this choice influenced his life.
Chris, your major is linguistics, why did you decide to become an intern in a Ukrainian law firm?
The reason why I’m here is mainly because a year abroad is a part of my degree. The idea is to spend enough time in a country to improve language skills and experience different cultures. Normally Durham university sends students to Tomsk University in Russia. But first, Tomsk is in the middle of nowhere, It’s cold, Siberia. And second, you study Russian alongside with internationals whereas in Ukraine I was surrounded entirely by native speakers and fully immersed in the culture and language.
How can you describe your first experience in a law firm?
Well, it was totally out of my comfort zone [laughs]. First of all, no one here is English. Secondly, It`s a law firm. This is my first long term job. It`s a great opportunity to get work experience, as I’m unsure what I want to do after university. I was thinking about Master’s in Law conversion focusing on International Law, so I thought it'd be a good idea to see If I actually enjoy law.
Working in a law firm has been a great experience. I enjoyed reading and checking through all sorts of documents to get an understanding of the inside world of law – the things you don’t see in films and on TV. The structures and arguments presented by the talented team I have been so lucky to work alongside have really been an ongoing masterclass, as well as meetings and business calls I have had in my time here. All this has definitely given me a lot of practice and examples of leadership and teamwork.
So, the legal experience has been very interesting and also great for my confidence because I was doing things that previously seemed far too intimidating or specialized.
How did you get along with INTEGRITES team?
I was truly impressed with the team spirit. Whether It`s a birthday party, lunchtime or even just getting a coffee, everyone has been kind and really accepted me as a part of the overall team. I think that has especially been so important for me as this is my first experience of an office job and the working world in general.
I’ve especially enjoyed celebrating Lawyer’s day and the Day of the Defender of Ukraine as the firm organized an amazingly talented performance and then a whisky tasting class. But even the small events such as a ping pong tournament have really helped me to get to know everyone better and socialize with lawyers of all grades, up to the managing partner.
The first day I arrived was both invigorating and terrifying [smiles]. Head of the Foreign Desk, Dmitriy Nyshpal, sat me down, explained my responsibilities and how I could help the team and then before I could even sit down at my desk, I was introduced to the entire firm in Russian.
What were your responsibilities?
I worked as a part of the Foreign Desk. A huge part of why I’ve enjoyed my time here so much is the department I work with, Dmitriy Nyshpal has been a great team leader, providing enough guidance whilst also letting me work through problems and challenges independently. But enough about the work itself, the biggest part I will take away from my time here are the relationship’s I've made with the team.
As part of my job, I’ve been helping with the development of relations with potential clients. This task had a lot of research around it and has given me plenty of practical skills working with large databases and CRM systems. Additionally, I set myself a task to help improve my department’s English skills and I think I’ve been successful.
What about Ukrainian culture?
I’ve really enjoyed Ukraine having been here for nearly three months. I’ve been living and working in Kyiv but have also managed to go and see Odessa and Lviv which has really given me a proper understanding of Ukraine as a whole. The country is definitely one of the highlights in my overall traveling experience, the people here are so friendly and surprisingly tolerant of my terrible Russian [laughs]. Everyone’s also been telling me that I've come at the perfect time to see Kyiv just before the season changes to winter.
I enjoyed genuine Ukrainian culture, my colleague’s grandmother has been supplying me with never-ending amounts of homemade jam and the team taught me a surprising number of Ukrainian phrases and words. We do work hard, but teambuilding events proved that lawyers can play hard too.
TOP 3 PLACES in Kyiv
O’panas for authentic Ukrainian food
The National Opera of Ukraine
Andriivskyi descent for the view over the Dnipro and all the art sellers