“What is this ‘clerkship’ you speak of, and how do I get one?”
Clerkships are holiday work experience programs that many firms offer to law students. Not only are clerkships an opportunity to test-drive a career in an area of law that interests you, a large number of firms recruit their graduate lawyers from clerkship intakes.
Students in their penultimate (second last) year of a bachelor of laws or juris doctor degree are typically eligible to apply. Some firms accept applications from students with less than two or more than four semesters of study remaining, but you should check with each firm.
Interstate applications are usually accepted, but be sure to confirm the eligibility criteria before applying.
Most clerkships are paid, full time roles so international students should consult with firms and check their visa restrictions before applying.
Top tier and mid-tier commercial law firms typically offer clerkships, although some government departments, charities, smaller firms, and firms that work in other areas of the law also have opportunities for law students. Head to our clerkship search page to find opportunities near you.
New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia have clerkship schemes that set out uniform application, interview and offer/acceptance dates for would-be clerks.
These standardised dates differ between jurisdictions and not all law firms that offer clerkships are signatories to clerkship schemes. Details of application dates for each firm are available on Survive Law's National Clerkship Guide.
Please note that there are no clerkship guidelines in the Northern Territory and Tasmania.
Applications are typically accepted during June/July each year, and clerkships run for two to three months over the summer break.
A large number of ACT law firms that offer clerkships follow the NSW clerkship scheme dates.
Applications run in February/March each year, with month long clerkships taking place during the winter and summer breaks.
Participating firms usually accept applications in July every year. Clerkship length and timing varies between firms.
Firms in Victoria typically accept applications during July/August each year. Many firms recruit clerks for both the summer break and for the winter break of the following year.
Applications take place in July/August each year. Clerkships typically run for two to three weeks during winter and summer breaks.
If you don’t think a clerkship is for you, there’s no obligation to apply. There are plenty of other legal work experience opportunities in other law firms, in-house and in the community legal sector. If you later change your mind, some major firms also have a graduate intake.