This can be a difficult time of year for penultimate year law students who’ve missed out on a clerkship. No one likes missing out, and even if you’re a “resilient type”, rejection hurts.
Everyone handles clerkship rejection differently. There will always be that law student who adopts a tough guy/gal stance and assures everyone that they’re not at all fazed by it. “Their loss!” these law students will say.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are the students who come out of clerkship season ready to throw in the towel. “There’s no purpose to going on with my law degree anymore!” they exclaim.
Then there’s the student who seems a bit more cynical than usual. If you have an encounter with this particular law student, you can expect to hear an anti-law rant or two while they’re going through this I-hate-everything phase.
Other students opt to disappear off the face of the law student planet for a few weeks and wait for the chatter about interviews and offers to die down.
Everyone copes with rejection in their own way and at their own pace. If you’re feeling miserable, spend some time catching up with your friends. You may be determined to deal with it alone and not want to show any signs of weakness, but there’s no harm in letting it out; your friends won’t think any less of you if you admit to them that you’re not coping as well as you’ve been making out to be. After all, we’re on your side!
Then take a step back, a deep breath and revaluate your options. There are so many career paths out there and clerkships were only one way to reach your dream destination. Get some feedback on your application, reassess your strengths and weaknesses and use these rejections to motivate you. Start searching for paralegal positions or research assistant roles. There are countless lawyers and barristers searching for an extra pair of hands around their firms or chambers. The most important thing is to get yourself out there as soon as possible and not to wallow for too long. You have far too much talent to be throwing in that towel already!
If you’ve been on the receiving end of clerkship rejections as of late, take comfort in knowing that when Justice Kirby was looking to become an articled clerk he received rejections from every single firm he applied to. Missing out on clerkships this year doesn’t mean that reaching the High Court bench one day is out of the question. You’ll be okay!
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