How to Get a Law Clerk Job
If you’re a current law student, seeking a clerkship whilst you complete your law degree is a great way to get your foot in the door. Gaining as much practical whilst you study is invaluable and will certainly make your transition into legal practice so much smoother.
What is it like being a law clerk?
It’s highly recommended that law students seek practical legal experience as early on in their legal studies as possible. Studying law is totally different from practising law and in many ways involves an entirely different skill set. If you speak with early career lawyers, they’ll often mention that life as a lawyer is nothing like what they imagined.
The general duties of a law clerk include legal research, basic administration tasks and ad hoc duties which assist the more senior lawyers, i.e filing documents with the Court registry or delivering briefs to counsel.
If you’re lucky enough to secure a legal clerkship, you’ll get some great benefits:
- Meeting and working with some top legal professionals and building your professional network early in your career.
- Developing your written and verbal skills which will greatly assist you in your legal studies
- Familiarise yourself with the legal industry and various processes
The above benefits will give you a great advantage by the time you graduate. As an experienced law clerk, you’ll find many more law firms will be receptive to your graduate lawyer job applications and you should find you have many more opportunities open to you.
What important skills do you need?
To be an effective law clerk the following skills are essential:
- Communication – You need to be an excellent communicator, so it’s important that you develop both your written and verbal skills
- Time management and organisation – As a law clerk, many of your assigned tasks will include competing deadlines assigned from different senior lawyers, you will need to navigate these requests and complete your work whilst satisfying your supervisors
- Common sense and logical reasoning – You’ll often find yourself in situations where you need to make autonomous decisions and reach conclusions based on a certain set of facts or supplied information. It’s vital that you develop your reasoning skills in order for you to make the best decision under the given circumstances
How do I get a law clerk job?
Most law firms handle clerkships and internships internally, they rarely engage a legal recruitment agency to assist due to the oversupply of law students seeking clerkships, because of this you’ll most likely need to apply to law firms directly.
- Research what tier of law you would like to practice in – top-tier, mid-tier or boutique. You’ll find with the top-tiers and upper mid-tiers there will be more structured programs and intake dates, so if you are interested in top-tier legal practice, visit their websites and research their programs and intake dates. The smaller boutique law firms will not often have structured legal clerkship programs and intake dates, it’s more ad-hoc and as needed
- Research what practice area you are interested in and to determine what law firms service that practice area – Depending on what practice area you are interested in will in some cases change what law firms you apply to. If you’re passionate about corporate law, you wouldn’t be applying at boutique family law firms. Some top-tier and mid-tier law firms will have clerkship programs which have rotating placements which give law students exposure to a variety of practice areas.
- Applying – Reach out and apply directly. Make sure your cover letter and legal resume are tailored to the law firm and practice area. If your a law student with no legal experience, ensure you demonstrate how any skills and experience you have are transferable allowing you to be effective in the role.
Getting a law clerk job early on in your legal studies will give you the opportunity to gain invaluable skills and experience and will provide you with exceptional insight into the legal industry. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet top legal professionals and build your professional network. In addition to this, the skills you learn will help you tremendously in your legal studies.
Getting a law clerk job is a great way to ensure you become a strong legal candidate when you graduate. From the experience, you’ll find the transition into practice much easier and you’ll find many more opportunities due to the practical experience you have obtained. In most cases, you’ll have a graduate lawyer job waiting for you after admission.