I’m about to start the process of applying for clerkships and I was wondering if you guys have any stories about people who have done them in the past? Also, some application tips would be amazing!
For this round table discussion, we call in:
Alice – clerked at Mills Oakley
Jimmy – clerked at Clayton Utz
Zoe – clerked at MinterEllison
Did you enjoy your clerkship overall?
Alice: It was a very useful experience – I learned a lot. I really valued the exposure to an office environment because most of my previous work experience had been in hospitality. It was good to feel like an adult and do something different, even though it was hard adjusting to the hours of 9-6 every day. I had 11 clerks in my team and we all got along well.
Jimmy: Yeah, I loved it. You essentially get dropped in a corporate situation with 35 new people (in my firm at least) who are all of a similar age, so there was a pretty good social vibe. Our clerk group got on really well.
Zoe: I think it was a fun summer, you didn’t have to work very hard once you were in the door, if I’m honest. But the whole lead up with the application process was so stressful.
It’s kind of two polar opposites I would say – the application process was so hard but then I had a really fun summer with a good, genuine bunch of people. They have all these social activities for you like sport every week and drinks every Friday – you go home at 5 and life is good.
What did you do day-to-day?
Alice: Well I started off in the intellectual property team and first, I was just doing research tasks and writing research memos for the partners. Towards the end they got me writing draft advice for clients and that was really good because I felt like I was contributing more. I also wrote a couple of journal articles in the not-for-profit team – that team actually had less work for me to do, which is why I ended up writing those articles, I think.
Jimmy: You do two rotations that go for about 5 weeks each – I started in M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions) and then went to Major Projects. You might be reading contracts, drafting clauses, doing research. Personally, I got to do some more substantive matters too like due diligence, for example. Another thing they did at Clayton Utz was give us a ‘knowledge management task’, which was like a generic firm task like writing case notes or looking at legislation. It was basically just a task that you could do on the side if you had no work to do for your team.
So many law students get quite worried and frenetic – they always want to be doing something or handing something in. Whereas I realised pretty quickly that you don’t have to do much, it’s really about getting a feel for the firm and the team you’re in.
Zoe: You get to put down preferences, and we got 3 rotations. I think people generally got 2 of the 3 preferences that they wanted. In the litigation team, I attended court a lot just to get to see what they were doing which was so interesting and I helped prepare the documents for court. I had some really interesting research tasks when I was in other more transactional teams to do with the Banking Royal Commission and the Aged Care Royal Commission. I found that I got a really good variety of work and it was great to get a taste of lots of different areas in such a short time.
I found the workload depends on the team and how prepared they were for a clerk, some teams were like, “we really need the help” and then other teams were like, “oh we’ll find something for you to do”.