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Book Review: Barely Legal, An Insider’s Guide to Advancing from Law Student to Lawyer in Australia b


After semester upon semester of reading complicated legal jargon, Barely Legal is a refreshing, yet insightful way to prepare for the conclusion of your law degree and the start of your rewarding legal career.

Author Paul Stevenson is a 2006 University of Queensland graduate with degrees in Law and Economics. He was admitted as a lawyer in 2007. (Yes, his experiences are recent!) Stevenson is a self-confessed achiever of uninspiring marks, who “probably spent far too many days in the student bar instead of the law library”, yet he managed to graduate with a coveted position at a national law firm. Since then, he has worked in legal recruitment, a career that has, so far, taken him to London and back.

It contains helpful guidelines about how to make a good start on your legal career, if that’s what you want. But after Survive Law’s Alternative Careers Month, I don’t blame you if the other options seem more appealing... If so, the book has a section on alternative career pathways too.

There are many books out there about finding jobs and acing interviews, but Barely Legal is the only one written specifically for Australian law students. The book includes tips on making the right choice of firm, mentor, speciality, location, and information about what law firms are looking for. There are also tips on how to navigating law firm drinks, using LinkedIn, successfully completing a clerkship and surviving the law firm interview.

Some of the highlights include how to answer the dreaded interview question: “What is your greatest weakness?” It’s a personal favourite interview question of many, not just law grads. If I had my way, I’d answer with “shoes” or “chocolate”, but the offers appropriate example answers which do not suggest any fatal weaknesses. Such as, “I’m a bit slow before 10am unless I have my morning coffee.”

Overall, Barely Legal is an interesting yet concise compendium of all things for the (almost) law grad. It’s easy to read and is relatable. The advice offered is smart and practical. And although the content is crucial, it will often put a smile on your face.

It is available in electronic form only, which is great for those law student hermits who never leave the house!

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