Volume 10, Issue 2
It’s late July and you’re just entering into your fourth semester at Melbourne Law School. That can mean only one thing. Clerkship applications have opened and it’s all any of your friends can f**king talk about.
Students who studied human rights and literature in their undergrad are suddenly “really passionate” about mergers and acquisitions.
Subscribers to Crikey and Green Left Weekly are suddenly flicking through the Australian Financial Review between lectures and googling what “commercial awareness” means.
And all anyone can think about is how this might be the best chance they’ll get to have their PLT subsidised and pay off their law school debts.
Given current sponsorship arrangements between the LSS and firms offering seasonal clerkships, Anon asked a few students who went through the process last year if they had any (objective) advice on the clerkship application experience.
These are their responses:
Ah, clerkship applications. They consume your life, especially in that last week, as you frantically finish all those cover letters you really should have written earlier. And then the deadline passes, and you think the hard part is over.
Not even close.
The hard part is keeping it together as invitations to interview come out and the first email to land in your inbox is a rejection. And the second. And the third.
It is when your friend, who you know has the same average as you and no better extra-curriculars to their name, is interviewing at all the firms you really wanted but turned you down. When another friend confides their distress in not having gotten a single interview, and you don’t want to tell them you had your first interview that morning.
The experience of being pitted directly against your peers is brutal. It hurts. So my advice? Be kind to yourself. Don’t ride every bump. And remember, HR are evil.
Rode the Rollercoaster applied for 12 firms and clerked at two firms
I came to this realisation when I had spent four hours printing and filing because a client decided at the last minute he wanted a bunch of documents to be single-sided, not double-sided: If you collected all the hours I spent on cover letters, writing, rewriting, proof-reading and re-writing again; the hours I spent on interviews, practicing my interview manner, embellishing (and yes, sometimes utterly falsifying) stories, and going over likely behavioural questions; the hours I spent brushing up my "commercial awareness" until I could comfortably bullshit about deals and markets; then the hours in the process itself: interviews, cocktail evenings, second round interviews, and then all summer and winter this year.
If I added all that time up and said, I'm going to search far and wide for a job that I actually want to do, that reflects my values, that will make me happy, and go fucking hard at it - go as hard as I can with all of those hours that I used applying for something because of my competition complex or FOMO or whatever - just put everything into it and let my grades slide and annoy my partner and accept all the concessions that I made for the clerkship process, but directed all of that towards something I really, actually want.
If I did that, I guarantee you I would be happier right now.
Don't believe the hype.
Team Mystic applied for 14 firms and clerked at three firms
This is to those for whom the dark undercurrent of commercial law sounds dissonant against your personal values.
Take strength in the absurdity of their endeavour: a fact of which you are aware and they are not.
Doublethink reigns. The competition group propagates monopolies. The employment team executes redundancies and makes disgruntled staff disappear. The ‘Energy’ and ‘Resources’ teams have synonymous names, but one is concerned with environmental conservation and the other its destruction. These absurdities go unnoticed and unchallenged.
You, too, must divide your mind: the part that knows and is aware and that other that speaks and participates. Challenge every assumption with which you are presented; you will need those thoughts as armament in later challenges to the status quo.
Do so and you will emerge a lawyer with the skills and connections to make a difference. But don’t lose your better self along the way.
Commercial Horcrux applied for 22 firms and clerked at three firms
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