Rithiga’s experience learning law at HarperCollins

A stock image of Lady Justice.
16th May 2023

By Rithiga, Access Aspiration student

My name is Rithiga and I’m currently a sixth-form student studying History, Politics, Sociology and English.

As an aspiring lawyer who was interested in the sector of media, I undertook a work experience placement week with the HarperCollins marketing team in October 2022 to gain a level of experience of what it was like to be working in a global publishing company. Although my time there was certainly entertaining and interesting, my heart was still set on the law so I asked whether there would be any potential placements opening up specific to the legal team.

Fast forward a couple of months, and I received an email from Access Aspiration that my placement with the legal team had been confirmed!

Naturally, I was very nervous about this experience, mainly because I had very little, in fact, no experience in law before this. Coming from a working-class family, I didn’t know anyone who was a lawyer or had even completed a law degree. I was worried about not being able to understand the tasks set for me, failing to impress the lawyers there, or even being a burden to the already very busy legal team.

However, from the first moment I was there I was met with nothing but warmth and kindness. The tasks that were set for me were all very engaging. For example, I researched existing legal and regulatory protection regarding the safeguarding of children and checked the competition terms and conditions to ensure that the company is compliant with the Advertising Standards Agency’s ‘CAP Code’ and marketing guidelines.

Rithiga and her peers posing for a selfie in the HarperCollins reception area.

While I enjoyed assessing whether the competition terms and conditions of the company are aligned with the ‘CAP Code’ I found the concept of ‘substantial similarity’ in copyright law to be the most enjoyable as I looked at the Infopaq case decision to determine the current legal position. 

While at the placement I was able to develop key administrative and organisational skills. Furthermore, the experience was able to give me an insight into the working world where there was little reliance on authority figures, such as teachers. This helped to enhance my independent skills and I learned to work on my own without relying on the help of others which I believed to be one of the most useful things I learnt.

A photo of Rithiga and her peers in a lift at the HarperCollins offices, they are posing in the mirror and smiling.

Generally, we are conditioned to be subordinate to our teachers, to wait for every instruction, and to do exactly what they say. If things weren’t clear we had them to help us, however, the real world is not like this – in fact, it’s the opposite.

Students must be able to get an insight into how it truly is outside of full-time education as too often we go into workplaces blindsided for what truly is to come. I firmly believe this experience helped me to understand more about not only the field of law, but the working world.

To learn more about how we’re creating more visibility of career pathways for 16-18-year-olds from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds, visit the Access Aspiration page on our website.