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Clerkship Alternatives

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Whether you’re in first or final year, you’ve probably heard about clerkships – work experience programs that are offered by many law firms. Applications for many clerkship opportunities are now open, but if a clerkship isn’t your thing, there are plenty of different work experience opportunities that can be just as valuable. Here are my top four clerkship alternatives…

Seek out work at a smaller or specialised firm

Consider work experience in a small, specialised law firm – often referred to as ‘boutique’ firms. Sometimes positions at these firms are advertised through university jobs boards and law students’ societies, but the best way to find out more about working with these types of firms is to contact them directly and express your interest.


If you’re looking for experience in a non-commercial legal environment volunteering at a Community Legal Centre (CLC) is a great way to give back to your local community and also gain some practical legal knowledge. CLCs are always looking for volunteers and the best way to find out about vacant positions is to visit CLC Volunteers for the volunteer vacancies and application information.

Of course, volunteer work doesn’t have to be law related. Volunteering in any capacity can be a valuable experience that teaches you skills you can use in the future. Volunteering Australia’s GoVolunteer website is one way to find volunteer opportunities in your local area. A quick Google or flick through your local paper can also yield details of interesting and rewarding volunteer opportunities.

Do some research work for a Barrister

Barristers often have short-term research assistant positions available for law students. These positions are sometimes advertised via jobs boards at uni or through the LSS.

Often this type of work is arranged informally. A colleague told me that a good way to gain work experience with a barrister is to first contact them and have an informal chat about a recent case they have worked on. Many barristers are happy to talk to students and once you are better acquainted you can ask them to keep you in mind for any research work they have.

Do a domestic or overseas internship

There are plenty of holiday internships out there for law students. The easiest way to find out about internship programs is through your university. The best thing about university-organised internships is that you can often receive academic credit for your work as well!

International internships are a wonderful way to get some work experience but also sate your appetite for travel at the same time. Various organs of the United Nation offer international internships, as do charities such as Oxfam, the Red Cross and Amnesty International, to name a few. A quick Google will unearth plenty of fantastic opportunities!

This is far from an exhaustive list of the things you can do with your break. You are really only limited by the bounds of your imagination! Whether you decide to try one of my suggestions or you choose your own adventure, be sure to make the most of this invaluable time away from uni.

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