I spent the semester of Spring 2010 working for Taylor Hampton Solicitors, a small law firm in London, England. We received a lot of phone calls and emails from concerned people at our office. Most of them were pulling at strings – people looking for attention, crazies with conspiracy theories, tipsters with no backing – but we followed up on every claim we could in case there was a bite on the other end of the line. During my four months, I got to experience some of the big bites but it was just after I left did the whole world realize that my last bite would end up snapping the line.
Taylor Hampton Solicitors specializes in media law and is located in the heart of London’s legal center. The lawyer I worked for at the firm was named Mark Lewis. Since mid-June he has been quoted in hundreds of publications all over the world. Why? He is one of the first, and one of the largest solicitors (a type of lawyer in the UK) working on the News of the World Phone Hacking case. His paramount case is that of the family of Milly Dowler – the 13-year-old girl whose phone was hacked while she was kidnapped and eventually found murdered. It was the case that brought down Rupert Murdoch’s historical tabloid ‘The News of the World’ and set into motion a chain of events that experts allege may eventually bring down Murdoch himself.
As you can imagine, with the amount of work that needed to be accomplished I rarely had time to make tea and coffee runs. Instead, I was wearing my suit and running from the office to the Royal Court of Justice, lodging documents or heading into courtrooms to hear judgments and take notes during trials. After the cases or any other big developments, my role instantly shifted from intern to agent. As the calls came in, I would put the New York Times on hold to field calls from The Guardian. I would tell the BBC that they could only have a live interview after Sky News. I would compile, categorize and plan lists upon lists of media outlets so that Mr. Lewis could respond accordingly. Needless to say every day was unique.
While at the firm, I was able to take part in meetings that would end up being some of the most formative towards certain clients’ cases. While I cannot disclose any names for legal reasons, meeting with clients and with the Metropolitan Police to review client cases just added to the fascinating and unique exposure I received over the four-month internship.
More than a great experience and the fact that I was an active part in an ongoing international news story, working on the phone-hacking case provided me the opportunity to expand upon my global knowledge and understanding. On a smaller scale, I learned about the legal system of the United Kingdom and its inner workings. On a larger scale, I witnessed justice being served to those instrumental and privy to illegal and highly immoral practices in the lustful pursuit of greed.
Beyond my “office job” I was able to experience so many aspects of English culture culminating in a 48-hour day at the gates of Buckingham palace for the historic Royal Wedding. I was even interviewed on both Canadian national television and Good Morning America! Who would have thought I would be connected with two international news stories in such a short timeframe?
All my experiences and adventures abroad were truly life changing and offered me opportunities beyond what I ever could have expected.