Writing letters, going along to court, attending consultations—the first few weeks as a trainee lawyer are quite challenging. Nelissen Grade takes on numerous driven starters every year, ready to put theory into practice. Last year, Silke Vervliet and Michael Sener took the oath; they are both lawyers with a passion for the profession and an inquisitive growth mindset. Working with colleagues, learning on the job and something new every day? Triple check. It’s time to look back at their first few months as lawyers!
From a smooth application process...
Silke and Michael started their internships at Nelissen Grade this year. They share an equal drive and dynamism, but each has their own pace and way of working. Whereas Silke was travelling and heard through the grapevine that a spot was opening up in the criminal law division, Michael started looking online for a traineeship in December 2020. "The application process went very smoothly. I had two meetings with senior partners Karen and Alexis, who introduced me to the office and its workings. That was great; I knew immediately what to expect. Not long after, I got the green light and was assured of my traineeship." The application questions were anything but standard, Silke adds. "I had prepared thoroughly for the traditional questions, but they never came up. On the contrary: Pascal Nelissen Grade, now my mentor, was genuinely curious about which discipline I was most interested in. He also gave me the feeling that there is a tremendous amount of room to learn together. That put me at ease immediately."
...to first lessons on the job
As a law student at university, you primarily receive theoretical training. Practical skills are only really honed in legal practice. As an intern at Nelissen Grade, you will immediately be immersed in the duties of a lawyer. "That initial period is new and intense but really fun," Silke says. "Attending consultations, going to court, to prison—you pick up a task here and there in the first week, but after that, you get a true introduction through a full-fledged case." Learning by doing, confirms Michael. "You learn everything so gradually, sometimes you don’t even realise you’ve mastered something. All the puzzle pieces suddenly fit together, and you can handle a case from A to Z."
"Nelissen Grade really gives you the chance to learn. There is a good balance between responsibility and guidance."– Silke Vervliet
The legal profession, of course
For those majoring in law, job options are numerous. Corporate counsel, tax consultant, working for the government—why a lawyer? For Silke, it’s indubitably the variety. "You experience something new every day. That’s just the way it is! That variety keeps me on my toes and makes it a very exciting job." It’s interesting and lively because at Nelissen Grade, starters work in a stylish open office, where—in addition to focused work—there is always room for a chat. They all have one goal: to make a difference for their clients. "You are given a lot of responsibility, so you also want to perform well," Michael says. "You don’t write out individual memos; you are involved in the case and with the client from the beginning. Providing thorough advice sometimes takes a lot of time, but the days fly by here."
"You aren’t running individual searches or writing memos behind the scenes here. As a lawyer, you are immediately involved in a case from A to Z."– Michael Sener
Exciting dynamic between experienced lawyers and young talent
In addition to a range of tasks and ownership of your cases, starters at Nelissen Grade are immediately included in the team. "I was welcomed with open arms from day one," says Silke. "Everyone is very accessible, and there is a youthful atmosphere. Joint lunches in the afternoon or a Friday after-work drink are more the rule than the exception here." The variety of options also appeals to Michael. "I am from Limburg, so it’s great when the partners spontaneously give me the opportunity to work from the Hasselt office." Freedom, independence and trust are paramount, all in a diverse team, just a stone’s throw from the university city of Leuven.