On the Radar: Lander & Rogers’ Three Step Guide to Seasonal Clerkships
A Three Step Guide to Seasonal Clerkships
Embarking on the clerkship process is daunting. For me, it almost felt like the lead up to getting your ATAR score again. I had heard the success stories and the horror stories and didn’t know where I would fit in amongst them. Hopefully this step-by-step guide can provide a few tips and tricks to get you well on your way!
Step 1: the application
The application process is time consuming. Get onto it early, and spend the time and effort perfecting your cover letter and CV. This is the first thing the firm sees from you, so you want to impress!
- Put all your work experience down: Don’t discount your non-legal work experience. It is likely that your waitressing job at La Porchetta, or your 7-year stint at Bunnings has developed your communication and interpersonal skills as much as any legal work.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread: Make sure you proofread your CV really carefully (including printing it out and reading the hard copy- something always pops up that you don’t see on the computer screen!) because this is the document that will be the same for every application.
- Show who you are: If you have room, it can be good to have an ‘interests’ section at the bottom to show a bit of your personality. This could include any sports or musical instruments you play, or any interesting hobbies you have. This could be what makes you stand out.
Your cover letter
- Do your research: tailor your cover letter to each firm. The firm wants to know why you want to clerk with them. The firm’s website and Linkedin pages are great places to start. Chat to employees of the firm at networking nights, and refer to what impresses you about the firm from what you have learnt.
- Be ready to discuss what you wrote about: Don’t write a paragraph in your cover letter about a deal the firm has worked on or a case the firm has been involved in unless you feel comfortable discussing it in an interview. Most of the clerkship interviews involve discussing aspects of your cover letter and CV, so write about what you know.
Step 2: the recruitment process
I wasn’t sure where I wanted to clerk before the recruitment process kicked off. The interviews and cocktail nights gave me a real sense of the cultures of the firms and the sort of work I would be doing.
- Get to know people: Don’t be afraid to not talk law! You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your colleagues down the track, so get to know them. I spent the majority of cocktail nights chatting about The Bachelor.
Step 3: offer day and the clerkship
- Stick to your guns: don’t get caught up in choosing the firms other people are choosing, or going to 3 top tiers just because you were offered them. If top tiers are what you are after, absolutely go for it! But if you were drawn to a small firm during the recruitment process, use the clerkship to get to know them better. You’re ultimately clerking at places you can see yourself working at, so choose what works for you.
- Mix it up: if you’re not quite sure where you want to end up, try and gain a range of experience from your clerkships. You could do this by choosing firms of different sizes, or that have different areas of practice.
- Hit the ground running: the clerkship flies by, so you want people to get to know you from the get go. Jump in and show people who you are from day one.
- Relax and enjoy! Get involved in as many events and activities around the firm as possible. This is a great way to meet people in the firm and it allows people to get to know you. It also gives you great insight into the culture of the firm. Arrange to have coffee with lawyers in other groups and ask people questions. The whole process is as much about you seeing what you want, as it is about the firm seeing what you have to offer.