From beer crate to briefcase
Exit life as a student, enter life as a lawyer. Fresh out of university in 2022, Rick Kuivenhoven started working at a law firm straight away. How is life as a recent graduate? And does it match his expectations?
What kind of student were you?
'Rather laid back. Studying wasn't exactly at the top of my list during my undergraduate period. I was really busy, rarely had an evening to myself, but it wasn't because of studying ... I was an active member of student association SSR-Leiden, worked alongside my studies, while also trying to fit in a few gym sessions on a regular basis. It wasn’t until I started my master’s that I became really interested and dedicated to my studies.'
What was missing during your bachelor's?
'It's not that I missed anything per se. I think during the bachelor's programme you’re able to get a good understanding of the things you’ll have to apply eventually. But it's such a specific type of understanding things ... You need a very broad base for that first. That's why the bachelor's programme is also very broad: you can end up doing almost any master’s in law. During my bachelor's degree, I really had no idea what I wanted to do.'
You ended up studying corporate law. Why did you decide to go with this master's degree?
'It was the one that most resonated with me in my everyday life. My parents both own businesses, so entrepreneurship was something I really grew up with. I was also the treasurer of my student association during the pandemic. In that period, I closely examined all kinds of contracts. As a result, I was clearly more motivated to complete this master's degree.'
And how do you like entering the job market as a legal assistant?
'I’m currently working at RWV Advocaten and I like it very much. From day one, I’ve been involved in talks with clients as well as any opposing parties. I've been participating in several meetings. That really helps you learn how to deal with clients very quickly. It also helps you to get a feel for the appropriate sense of humour.'
Do you feel that your studies have prepared you for this type of profession?
'The bachelor's degree, as I said earlier, is actually too broad for that. But during my master's, I was able to get a good impression of what it would be like to work as a lawyer. Ultimately, you mostly learn the social skills, the intricacies of the profession outside your studies, by actually doing it.'
And do you feel you get the support you need?
'I'm learning a lot; that's also because everyone has a different approach. With one lawyer, I send in a piece and then two weeks later I get a message saying. 'Looks good, can you adjust this and this?' And then I think, 'okay, sure'. Naturally, I’ll always check why it needs to be adjusted. Sometimes it's something very small, but important nonetheless. And with another lawyer, I’ll send a piece and he’ll pull me out of my office within an hour saying: "hey, that piece you sent, we're going to go through it now". And then I get immediate feedback on what's good and what could be done better.'
And are you missing student life?
‘Not so much, to be honest. I like the structure. And also that I don't have to worry about money all the time. And I actually also feel like I'm living a bit healthier ...'
Do you have any tips for current students?
‘Take time for other things outside your studies. But when it comes to your studies, just make sure you go for it 100%. You're going to regret not putting in the work later.’