Reflections from a Clerkship Survivor

So...the annual clerkship season for law students has come and gone. If you are unaware of what this is, it’s the period in March and/or May, where law students place their futures in the wheel of fate to apply for the elusive “summer clerkship”, “winter clerkship” or even more elite “graduate job”. Added to this pressure cooker is that all major firms recruit in this tearful magical time. Here’s a few things I learnt along the way, so that you may be in the know – better than I was anyway. Let us learn the yoda way!!

1. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail

This period is long and draining. First, the actual application process is A LOT. Cover letter after cover letter, CV and written references – these can all be both soul destroying and self-appreciating. While at some point your cover letters all start to seem the same, it’s also a great time to sit back and look at everything you’ve achieved.

Start researching firms early, you want to have some good content to put in your application. DON’T LEAVE IT TO THE LAST DAY. HR will know if you submit your application at 11:59am on 31 March. CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK YOUR APPLICATION. Don’t send your application to Bell Gully to Buddle Findlay – it’s self-explanatory.

2. It doesn't end after you submit your application

Think that it gets easier after you submit your application? Wrong. Firms can have 3 to 6 steps or more in their recruitment process. Many firms do psychometric testing, some even do video interviews or phone interviews before the in-person interviews, then come the assessment centres, pre-interview and post-interview cocktail nights and the list goes on. These take up a LOT of your time and you’ll find yourself battling between studying, attending classes and attending interviews. Make sure you have good mates in class that can take notes.

Remember to keep your mental health and wellbeing in check too - attending all these interviews and networking events, getting rejections (inevitable) is hard. Take the time to exercise and de-stress. This period can feel like people are analysing you from head to toe and you can sometimes feel inadequate, especially when things don’t work out. However it’s important to remember that sometimes it’s just not meant to be. There could be something better around the corner!

3. Psychometric testing?!

Nearly all firms now do psychometric testing. It’s (personally) the worst. You do so many tests, they’re all kind of different but all kind of the same. Usually firms test on critical thinking tests and inductive reasoning tests. The first asks you to think critically about pieces of information they have given you, while the latter asks you to find the next or missing pattern, from a series of patterns. If you aren’t one of the 1% whom psychometric testing comes easy to; you should look at doing practice tests to get used to the type of questions being asked. Practice makes perfect! There can also be numerical tests and even personality tests. All in all it’s quite exhausting and confusing, especially if you’re doing it for the first time, so practice can really help.

4. Be yourself and ask, is this really for me?

If during the recruitment process especially at interview stages, you feel yourself being fake– STOP!! Remember this is your future and if you’re going to be at this firm for a while, you want to be able to be yourself. Interviewers appreciate authenticity and can easily tell if you’re being fake. If it doesn’t feel right then don’t force it. If you’re stopping yourself from choking at how boring everything is, this is a major sign. You know what fits you best and rest assured that if it’s not for you, then it’s not for you. Remember you are awesome - you don’t need some law firm to tell you that!

And lastly to all those applying in the future, may the force be with you!!

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