The way we work internally is the same as the way we work with our clients.
We are client-centric and we focus on building strong long-term relationships that are honest and cuts through the jargon.
We let our interns do the talking
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I have found my time at VanillaLaw® being one of the most comprehensive internships that I have undertaken. It has been interesting to see both Mark and Boon Chong meet client needs through collaborative work.
Those in the firm work extremely well with a range of clients and areas of law, this is reflected by the high level of expertise within the firm. It is evident that each case is looked at thoroughly whilst the client is well informed throughout the whole process.
The firm are so welcoming and this is reflective of the warm culture. I would strongly recommend aspiring solicitors to intern with VanillaLaw®.
As a student aspiring to work in the commercial field, it is often daunting to head directly to the large firms for work experience. The high level of work and sharp learning curve is not something I myself felt prepared for. So as an intern at VanillaLaw®, where they largely work with SMEs, it was the perfect way to engage with core and substantive commercial issues when trying to achieve common business objectives. It gave me a strong foundational and practical understanding of what is required for a business to run, and how the lawyers assist this process. Often the businesses would be attempting to provide a service that is common in everyday life, for example tuition lessons or the development of an app, which allowed me to properly engage and understand the cases.
Moreover, the team is incredibly professional and transparent. It is inspiring to see Mark, Boon Chong and Vivienne work together as they embody everything expected of a good team – communication, trust and organisation. Additionally, I did not feel like an intern but rather a part of their team; I was at every meeting and copied into all email correspondence which gave me a true insight into the process of assisting these firms and the work that VanillaLaw® does. As such, I was able to meet with people from all walks of life and given a broad insight into several businesses.
Ultimately, I think VanillaLaw® is truly as unique as their brand, where they operate under a forward-thinking management style. They are well versed with online tools such as Zoom and Trello, which allows them to operate efficiently and adapt quickly. This meant that working remotely did not take away from my experience as an intern. Moreover, their aim to support the growth of SMEs and to approach this niche yet upcoming clientele is not only helpful for the community, but fruitful for their own business objectives as a firm. They have effectively tailored to this market and are genuinely passionate about supporting these businesses. This is evident through their commitment to the clients, but also their innovative platform VanillaLaw®Docs, which is a useful tool for many SMEs in drafting legal documents and creating their own library. I had the opportunity of using this platform which I can attest is an efficient and useful tool for detailed and tailored document drafting.
Within two weeks, I have had an enriching and unique experience. I have been involved in corporate, family and mediation cases to name a few, all of which have taught me invaluable skills that I know I shall use throughout my career.
My internship at VanillaLaw® was indeed unlike any other that I have had thus far.
This is an outﬁt that deﬁes much of the conventional preconceived notions of how a legal practice ought to look or even feel like. In almost every aspect – business model, mode of operations etc it seeks to distinguish itself from the madding crowds through a re-invention and re-imagination of the prevailing conceptual understanding of industry standards and expectations; essentially being revolutionary in both form and function.
In terms of its singular focus on the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) market segment, it’s dedication is par excellence. It adopts an approach in practice that is much sensitised to the sensibilities of a SME’s priorities driven by an uncompromising logic of legal thought that is incisive and intuitive yet having it all conveyed in simplicity, tempered by much humanist acumen. Such is a powerful proposition that has gained them much traction and won them client buy-ins.
It’s commitment to technological innovation and reﬂective practice is all part and parcel of a design that is pretty much business unusual. While leveraging on technology to harness efficiency is not uncommon, at VanillaLaw® it is more than just about exploitation of ready for use hardware and software.
At VanillaLaw® it is all about carefully crafted innovation and invention as much as it is about strategic execution. For all these and more, VanillaLaw® seeks to establish itself not merely as a corporate entity that is but a face in the crowd but for which it is one that the crowd faces.
Within the two week internship that I have completed with VanillaLaw®, I learned that VanillaLaw® is not like other ﬁrms. From every meeting that I have sat in or for every hearing that I attended, I could feel the dedication and effort put into every case. The team at VanillaLaw® truly believes in what they do and it is clear that helping the community is and always will be their main priority. This is what makes VanillaLaw® special and what makes it so great to be able to have such a brief yet meaningful internship there.
During the internship, the team provided unfettered access to all their inner workings. I was allowed to sit in for meetings, client conferences and even hearings. The team never treats you like an outsider and they are always willing to pass down information and advice that they think would help you grow and develop not just as a lawyer but also as a person. Mark and Viv were both amazing to work with as you could witness the professionalism and experience when they conducted conferences and meetings. In this conferences, what astounded me was that my feedback and opinion were equally considered and listened to. This shows that they truly appreciate each and every single member of their team. Boon Chong was also an amazing mentor. He never failed to keep me in the loop when it came to the cases he was working on and he was always willing to set aside some time to help bring me up to speed when I did not understand something. Further, he was always willing to give advice and help you as you go along. These people and this team truly helped make this internship so meaningful.
For the more technical parts, this internship also provides valuable experience. You are expected to jump right in and help out in the work. They trust you to be able to perform and they give you the opportunities to prove yourself. Allowing you to ﬁgure things out on your own without hand-holding was very much appreciated and is probably one of the reasons why I enjoyed the internship so much.
VanillaLaw®’s undivided commitment to the SME market has enabled them to develop speciﬁc expertise in legal and commercial matters alike. In the two weeks that I spent there, I was exposed to a wide variety of corporate, civil and family law matters that highlighted the array of VanillaLaw®’s offerings.
VanillaLaw® is resolute in its pursuit of excellence and business success for its clients. From the initial consult to subsequent engagements, clients are placed at the centre of focus. The ﬁrm’s promise of putting clients’ needs ﬁrst is foregrounded in their emphasis on advancing commercial and legal interests simultaneously by developing case theories and strategies with business interests in mind.
The ﬂat organisational structure and synergetic culture driving VanillaLaw® made my internship genuinely worthwhile. I was encouraged to collaborate, contribute, and critique at every step of the way.
VanillaLaw®’s authenticity and drive facilitate the holistic development of its clients and workforce alike. Ultimately, VanillaLaw®’s commitment to continuous development and ethos of client-centricity sets it apart.
My two-week internship at VanillaLaw® exceeded my expectations and challenged pre-conceived perceptions of law ﬁrms, the culture and the variety of work completed. I was impressed by the ﬁrm’s wealth of experience in navigating some of the most complex cases in such laymen terms in order for the client and interns to understand.
The ﬁrm’s transparency, authenticity and support helped navigate me through legal research, court hearings and client meetings in that I was able to ask questions, observe and follow-up with any questions I had. This ﬂat internal organisational structure and their progressive use of technology allows the ﬁrm to form strong relationships externally with their clientele and internally with the team which in turn provides responsive and strategic legal advice.
Due to this ﬂat non-hierarchal structure, I was given responsibility to research, conceptualise, observe client meetings, and court hearings and draft documents.
I have completed a two-week internship at VanillaLaw®. First, I would like to say a few words about the ﬁrm. VanillaLaw® is an unique law ﬁrm and can be distinguished from other legal services providers. VanillaLaw® is a boutique law ﬁrm which focuses on providing legal services and support to the SMEs. Moreover, their approach to the clients’ needs and understanding the objectives of the clients allow them to keep the trustworthy relationship between the clients and the legal team.
Due to my location (London, United Kingdom) it was a virtual internship. I was introduced to the team and was given time to familiarize myself with the ongoing cases placed in Trello (a useful tool to communicate with the team and circulate to all team members all the essential information and documents).
During the two-week internship, I was involved in the clients’ interviewing process, where I tried to take attendance notes. It was a lesson for me on how to ask the right questions in order to understand and ﬁnd out the clients’ objectives. I ﬁnd this a beneﬁcial experience as one of my assessment for the Solicitors’ Qualifying Exam in the UK will be client interviewing and attendance note taking. Also, I had the opportunity to draft a Statement of Claim and a chance to draft some legal documents using VanillaLaw® Docs which was unusual for me.
Overall, the team was supportive and navigated me through the process. I could always ask for help if I did not understand the case. The team replied on my questions giving me a broader view. I am grateful for the assistance and time they spent on explaining how to work with the clients and to identify the key issues in the case. Prior to this internship, I had worked in several UK law ﬁrms, and I would like to stress that (in the UK law ﬁrms), no one cared for the trainee or intern and you are by yourself trying to cope with the tasks.
MY FORTUITOUS ENCOUNTER WITH VANILLALAW
I stumbled upon VanillaLaw® by chance, looking to clear my school’s internship requirements, but I did not expect to learn so much from a boutique ﬁrm within a short time frame of 2 weeks. For me, having completed 2 internships prior, VanillaLaw® was like breath of fresh air, both in terms of culture and the way they functioned.
When I ﬁrst started, I was surprised to ﬁnd that VanillaLaw® was already experienced with the use of zoom, trello and other online solutions that circumvented the terriﬁc impacts of Covid. They are a ﬁrm that is unafraid to wander into the unchartered territories of technology to provide value for their SME clients in ways unheard of. In particular, I was very impressed with the revolutionary VanillaLaw® docs that helps clients with drafting in an effective, eWcient and low-cost manner, which completely differed from my experience in other ﬁrms.
During my short stint at VanillaLaw®, I was exposed to many different areas of corporate and litigation work, with the unique part of my experience being that I was thoroughly involved in each assignment from the outset. From being given the opportunity to participate in discussions with clients, to understanding their needs, planning and translating them into agreements, I’ve obtained great insight into how VanillaLaw® carefully strategizes and crafts contracts that ensure the protection of the clients’ interests in almost any scenario. From this, I have not only learnt key drafting and planning skills, but more importantly, how to clearly identifythe clients’ needs and strategize means to best protect their interests.
I also had the chance to participate in not just the planning and preparations for a litigation assignment, but also be present at the case’s hearings to see my work come to fruition. One in particular that stuck with me was a trial with cross examinations. I found it incredible how our team was able to not only clearly understand the situation and the clients needs, but were able to pinpoint multiple weaknesses in the opposition’s case and execute our case conﬁdently, which swung the case heavily in our favor.
Most important of all, I was inspired by the character of the people that made up the VanillaLaw® team. Throughout my 2 weeks, Mark had been consistently respectful and patient in his teaching and guidance, yet ﬁrm when it comes to upholding standards. Boon Chong had also put in great efforts to explain to me the complex ideas and procedures in cases whenever I asked. But what surprised me most of all was how every person in the team genuinely cared for the client and each member of the team including myself. They were genuinely concerned for my well-being, often checking up on me to make sure I could handle the work load, and took it upon themselves to ensure that I learn and take away more than what I have contributed to the ﬁrm. Up till the start of my experience with VanillaLaw®, I had never seen a legal team that embodied optimism, compassion and service in the way VanillaLaw® had.
Though my internship has ended, the experience, knowledge and attitude that I’ve gained will stay with me as I look to becoming lawyers like them in the future. Indeed, I have taken away much more than I had initially expected, and much more than what I had contributed in these 2 weeks.
Of the many things that distinguished my experience with the VanillaLaw® community, perhaps the most signiﬁcant is this: I dare say VanillaLaw® is unapologetically single-minded in their service of their customer segment, the SMEs, and they structure their every work process and team discussion accordingly. The team adopts many practices which run against the grain of what traditional law ﬁrms usually do, but they do so not for the sake of being “counter-culture”. Their ﬂat organisational structure, progressive use of technology and software, and embracing of alternative dispute resolution, are all characteristics that support their one objective and clientele.
That said, this did not limit the cases I saw here to purely corporate work – I had the pleasure of being exposed to several civil and criminal cases, reﬂective of the clients’ trust of the people here. Notably, sitting into client meetings and hearings got me to engage in the realities of practice, where strategy, civil procedure, and communication with clients came to the fore and had me thinking outside of the silos of legal concepts. I saw how involving the clients in discussions and giving them adequate information and control was crucial to client-centricity.
Interning here was a good balance of being thrown into the deep end and having help available to guide you along. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of trust and autonomy given – I got to understand fully the past and present development of every case I was assigned to, discuss case theory and review contracts, and even communicate with clients on behalf of the team. Committed to training up the next generation, Mark and Vivienne consistently took care to integrate me into their current workﬂow, rather than creating intern-level tasks or points of research for me to do, and I never felt sidelined or overwhelmed. It was a step outside of my comfort zone, but a manageable one for me to quickly pick up new guiding principles, processes, and skill sets. Thank you also to Boon Chong for taking the time to explain cases and points of law.
I was most eager to know about the ﬁrm’s work culture, and found that it did not disappoint. As a young and earnest student, I came in with many misconceptions and ideals, and these have been reﬁned by the conversations I had with the team. Your decades of life advice, dispensed generously, have been formative in shaping the kind of career and lifestyle I want to have, and more importantly the kind of person I would choose to be. The transparency in the team, both across our online work software and across the lunch table, is something that you called “brutally honest”, but that I deeply appreciated.
VanillaLaw® is a ﬁrm and community sold to its core purpose, and I’ve greatly enjoyed the work and authenticity here.
I thoroughly enjoyed my summer internship with VanillaLaw® LLC. From the very ﬁrst day, I was already sitting in on client meetings, and getting involved with the drafting of legal documents. If you truly want to experience the work and culture of a boutique ﬁrm, with a dedicated team, look no further than VanillaLaw®.
Law school teaches you plenty of principles and knowledge, but VanillaLaw® gave me an opportunity to translate all of that into practical use. The experience here also opens your eyes to a new set of considerations – the firm’s client-centric ethos and holistic view of the interplay between business and law, shape the way they approach cases and issues. The ﬁrm focuses on SMEs – both local and international – which sensitised me to the issues that business owners face.
Additionally, I got to have a taste of all kinds of legal work: arbitration, employment law, NDAs and family law were just a few of the areas that I explored during my time with the ﬁrm.
OPEN COMMUNICATION CHANNEL
It did seem overwhelming at ﬁrst, but one of the things I loved the most about the internship was the openness and warmth. There’s no need to worry about who you should be asking or whether the question is “stupid” – the people here understand that you might need some guidance or a helping hand, and willingly offer both. As long as you’re eager to try, they’ll support you along the way. The emphasis on teaching and the effort to make sure the internship is meaningful for both parties is something that you won’t be able to ﬁnd easily, and I would like to thank everyone at the ﬁrm for welcoming me in. I’ll deﬁnitely miss the chats we had at the long table!
I was also impressed by how forward-thinking the ﬁrm was, and how prepared they were to deal with the disruptions in the midst of COVID-19. With open communication channels and a whole host of excellent remote-working processes and tools, I never felt like I was being forgotten or left out, and it was easy to access everything I needed to stay updated. VanillaLaw®‘s investment in and comfort with technology, going so far as to develop their own proprietary software (VanillaLaw® Docs), further sets them apart from other ﬁrms.
Put aside the lofty ideals and sensationalised drama of Suits – the work being done at VanillaLaw® involves real people, real work, and results in real impact. Come in with an open mind, ready to learn and participate, and it’ll be an experience that stays with you forever.
Chiow Hui Min
Singapore Management University August 2020
It is quite diWcult to summarise my experience here at VanillaLaw®LLC as a summer intern. But for starters, I would say that it was an eye-opening experience that would stay with me for a long time. Amongst other things, I got to experience working with documents ranging from NDAs to drafting a will, licensing agreements and employment contracts. Everyone here guided me and were quick to answer queries that I might have – something I really appreciated.
A FLAT ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE
VanillaLaw® has a different internal organisation structure – you don’t really experience a hierarchy here. Everyone here talked to me like an equal and are always more than willing to help me with anything that I might have had in mind. This sense of family and equality in status meant that I was brought onboard to all client meetings – where i was encouraged to ask questions during fact ﬁnding sessions, and even helped clients ﬁll out forms together on zoom conference calls.
Reﬂecting on the experiences in this ﬁrm – from court hearings and conducting research to drafting forms and meeting clients – I ﬁnd that I have grown as a person. I’ve learnt to not jump head ﬁrst into my work, but to stop and plan my approach. I also learnt that in a team, accountability and trust is key – we should always discuss our next steps before embarking on it to make sure we stay on the same page. My time here taught me the importance of teamwork in getting work done, and it’s one of the most unique points of the ﬁrm, along with its liberal implementation of technology tools, that i think might have made it this eWcient at its work.
A FIRM DEDICATED TO HELPING THE SMEs
The COVID-19 pandemic radically changed how businesses operated, but VanillaLaw® was no stranger to conducting its normal course of business online. VanillaLaw®‘s agility allowed it to ﬂourish in this new normal, which is something I am appreciative to be a part of a ﬁrm dedicated to helping SMEs establish a solid foundation for its business needs, VanillaLaw® strongly believes in making the law accessible, and takes a unique approach in doing so. It is proud to support the smaller companies that does so much for our economy, and its innovative technologies and methods have impressed the clients and myself.
I do recommend that future interns who seek to apply to this ﬁrm come here with an open heart an open mind. I came to this ﬁrm expecting to be involved heavily in corporate work, but I got more than I bargained for. I was exposed to a litany of different practices – commercial litigation, family suits, private client, international commercial arbitration, amongst others. I’m conﬁdent that Mark and Vivienne will give you solid advice and exposure just like they had done for me. Do not be afraid to ask questions, even those that might seem trivial. Most importantly, do not be afraid to get your hands dirty – despite the fancy technological innovations that makes everybody’s lives easier, hard work is still a big part of the job here.
I have learnt a lot from my experience in this ﬁrm, and I’m conﬁdent that the skills taught to me here are some of the greatest takeaways that law school is unlikely to teach me.
My internship experience with VanillaLaw® LLC has been an extremely memorable and insightful one that has taught and exposed me to aspects of practice that law school has been unable to teach me in full. On top of being allowed to shadow lawyers to court, sit in during client meetings and draft basic legal documentation, I was allowed to participate in VanillaLaw®‘s booth exhibit during SME Technology and Innovation Day. It was during this event that I was granted the opportunity to pitch the ﬁrm’s innovative legal tech, VanillaLaw® Docs, to SME and Business owners. The event really broadened my horizons as it shattered my initial belief that a lawyer’s skill set is conﬁned to advocacy and legal expertise.
FLAT ORGANISATION STRUCTURE
With a relatively ﬂat organisational structure, the staff were very willing to answer any questions I had during the course of my internship, and provided genuine feedback where appropriate. This contributed greatly to making my experience here a very meaningful and enjoyable one.
CONCURRENT LEGAL AND BUSINESS TEAMS SUPPORT
With the legal and business teams operating concurrently under one roof, they actively challenged my pre-conceived notions of legal practice. The ﬁrm’s fundamental belief that business and law have to come together to optimise legal solutions is underscored by the provision of well-tailored business advice during consultations which prioritise the business interests of VanillaLaw®‘s diverse clientele.
Collectively, the two arms of business and law work together to support SMEs at varying stages of maturity. The personal opportunity to witness and experience such synergies during an internship program has deﬁnitely been an unparalleled and arguably non-replicable experience.
Hwa Chong International Schhol
International Baccalaureate Diploma Graduate (2018)