A spectre is haunting the MLS – the spectre of clerkships. A delirious aura of exhaustion surely hangs over every law student who has spent weeks writing cover letter after cover letter to law firms they’re not even interested in. If they’re lucky, they get to sit a psychometric test deliberately designed to stress them. If they’re even luckier, they get to sit through an interview trying to explain why they’re interested in a job they’re not interested in. Then, at the end of it all, they are probably going to get an email about the “large number of strong applications this year”, with no idea of how to get a job in law other than through a clerkship.
With clerkship offers rapidly approaching, maybe we should reflect on what this process is doing to us, and how it became this way.
The state of affairs is familiar to all of us: there are vanishingly few positions in clerkship programs compared to the number of applicants, and most people end up finding jobs outside of clerkships and graduate programs with the big commercial law firms. Even though we know this to be the case, a massive amount of resources are spent advertising seasonal clerkships, and providing advice on how to ace your interview, spruce your C.V., or compose a killer cover letter.
Clerkships often dominate discussions about career opportunities after law school. Even though only a few people will get into a clerkship, it is treated as the default path, if not the only way, into a ‘successful’ legal career. A large number of law students wind up with the tacit impression that their whole worth as a legal professional depends on getting into a clerkship at a commercial law firm, with perverse ethical outcomes.
We all do our fair share of puffery when advertising ourselves in job applications, but the hyper-competitiveness that is cultivated by the clerkship process in particular seems to encourage seriously unethical behaviour, and hostility among us all.
As an extreme example, De Minimis has been made aware of allegations that a member of the MULSS executive committee misrepresented their employment credentials in order to secure personal benefits. De Minimis understands that the individual has been employed as a casual at a prominent law firm in the past, but continues to mislead others, both face-to-face and via platforms such as Linkedin, into believing their employment is ongoing.
A senior representative for the firm at which the individual claims to be employed confirmed to De Minimis that although the person had not been formally fired, their contract was unambiguously casual, and they had received no work from the firm since February. De Minimis understands that the lack of work for eight months means that the person is no longer considered an employee as a matter of law.
This raises questions about whether they deceived electors during their 2021 election campaign and whether it would be most appropriate for them to step down from the MULSS Executive Committee. Also in question is when exactly other figures on the Committee became aware of the deception.
It isn’t our place at De Minimis to name and shame this person, or to engage in a private crusade against members of the MULSS, but we are genuinely concerned about this as a manifestation of the toxic, hypercompetitive behaviour that the clerkship process in particular seems to encourage.
While singling someone out for lying about their work status might seem petty, this is the kind of unethical behaviour that could prevent someone from being admitted as a lawyer, and beyond that, it’s the kind of behaviour that makes people cynical about participating in life at MLS, and makes life miserable for those who try.
This concern leads us to raise a question: why is the careers information provided by the MULSS seems so heavily skewed towards the clerkship process, when it is ultimately relevant to so few of us?
While events are run to provide information about legal careers in the public sector, or criminal law or public interest law, it nowhere near matches the amount of information or resources devoted to raising awareness about clerkships at commercial law firms, which get their own handbook – which is two and a half times the length of the more generalist careers handbook. Why?
Is it perhaps because of the massive amounts of revenue generated by selling space in the handbook to commercial law firms? Is there a conflict of interest experienced by those who organise and publish the careers information?
Again, we would like to emphasise that De Minimis is not trying to launch a crusade against members of the MULSS. We all sit in a structure that incentivises hyper-competitive behaviour, and we are not suggesting that members of the MULSS have acted with nefarious intentions. Nevertheless, the pattern is clear, and its malign effects are evident.
We need the MULSS to recognise that they put too much emphasis on clerkships as the default pathway into a career, and devote more resources to raising awareness of the normal ways of getting a job after graduation. Clerkships can be a great way to gain experience and exposure, but they are not what most people will experience, and the MULSS has a duty to put its resources into information that is more relevant to the student body at large, who won’t get into one.
Note: This article is the result of an investigation by De Minimis. Anyone seeking to learn more about the methods involved in that investigation, and the veracity of the information, may contact the Editor-in-Chief at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article cited an incorrect reference. Sorry about that.
This is the absolute, ultimate, final ranking of the signs. The results are not up for debate. The following is, in order from best to worst, which signs reign supreme.
1 - Pisces
2 - Libra
3 - Virgo
4 - Capricorn
5 - Gemini
6 - Cancer
7 - Leo
8 - Scorpio
9 - Sagittarius
10 - Aquarius
11 - Taurus
12 - Aries
As Melbourne enters its 253rd day in lockdown, Garry Gale is pretty sure he fucked up.
Back in 2019, it had seemed like such an easy call to take the MLS offer over USyd’s. Melbourne was the cool city – Sydney, the place for people who wear boat shoes.
Not to mention the prestige. Every man and his dog knows MLS is Australia’s top ranked law school. And if you don’t know, it’s JD students will be sure to tell you.
But it doesn’t take a law degree to know a lot has changed since 2019.
Since moving from Sydney to Melbourne, Gary has now spent two-thirds of his degree online.
“It just feels like a bit of a stitch-up, y’know?” he told our De Minimis reporter this morning.
“We did everything right, but now Sydney gets to open back up again. Before us. I can’t even doomscroll instagram to pass the time anymore. Do you know how it feels to see my old friends share beers at the pub and then kick on the beach? Let me tell you – it’s not fucking great.”
More to come.
Bumblebee is a first year JD student.
Volume 20, Issue 10
Our culture today seems very willing to throw the label movie star towards any up-and-coming actor after only a few good films in a row, with an increasing number seemingly ascending to the divine status of membership of the ‘A-list’. A few good movies in a row are undoubtedly an achievement, but what is almost unfathomable is four decades of classic after classic. With a career entering its fifth decade, there’s a strong case that for the entirety of his career Tom Cruise has been at the very top of the A-list. This led me to the question: what about Cruise has enabled him to achieve such success over four decades and counting?
Are there more important questions to be asking in today’s world, even ones people might be more interested to read about? Probably, but let’s have an explore of Cruise anyway to try and find the answers.
The Beginning: 1981-2001
Risky Business, Top Gun, The Color of Money, Rain Man, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Jerry Maguire, Magnolia, and Eyes Wide Shut.
If Cruise were to have retired even as early as 2001, he still would have been left with one of the greatest film careers of all time. His filmography in this period is truly absurd, and what is even more astounding is that these classic films came one after another. With the change of the film industry in recent years, and the rise of streaming and actors flocking to TV, I really wonder if any actor in the future would be able to ‘achieve’ a run of hit films to this extent.
Moviemaking is really a team sport, with winning (making a good film) requiring the entire team, both players and coaches, to be of high quality. While Cruise has worked with a litany of great actors, what sticks out is the coaches that have directed his films. These directors included a list of names that are etched into the history of cinema, such as Coppola, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Stone, Scorsese, Pollock, De Palma, Robert Towne, PTA, and Kubrick. Advocates for Belichick in the Brady-Belichick debate would suggest this identifies Cruise’s success is caused by the quality of the coaching staff he has worked with. However, like with Brady, when you have had so much success, and you are in so many good films, eventually some responsibility must rest with the common denominator, Cruise.
The Tom Cruise Character
In looking at these films in the list above, several similarities appear. The characters Cruise plays are all narcissistic, self-assured, arrogant douchebags. These characteristics never reach an extent where they cross the line to being truly unwatchable, and as William Goldman suggests movie stars tend to avoid such roles. However, I would argue that many of these roles could very easily cross that line, and it is only because of Cruise’s infatuating charisma and irreverence that the audience is prevented from ever disliking his characters. Rain Man and Charlie Babbitt is a great example: Charlie is undeniably horrific and while we as the audience might be able to identify that, Cruise is so enjoyable we never want to look away. In Michael Caine’s view, Charlie's actions are so overwhelmingly hateable that Charlie should be unwatchable - Cruise’s ability to lead the audience to like Charlie could therefore be classed as a best of all-time acting performance (and one arguably better than that of co-star Dustin Hoffman, who won the Best Actor Oscar for the film).
Cruise’s off-screen life and general intensity makes it by no means difficult for one to imagine why he is so easily able to play these douchebags, often returning to these parts. Specifically, these similar characters often have an extremely similar arc, something critic Roger Ebert conceptualised in what he calls a ‘Tom Cruise Picture.’ They open with a hyper-masculine and greatly confident flog that has raw skill in a particular craft, the meeting of a mentor to help him develop these skills to defeat an enemy, and ending with the defeat of said enemy, resulting in the character transforming into a better man. In effect, a straightforward three act structure we all learnt in primary school, nothing too elaborate or unique, merely a tried and tested formula that effectively guarantees an entertaining narrative. While it is true that many classic Cruise films are simplistic, when the outlined elite directors are coupled with the specific skills of Cruise to play his archetypal character, the result is almost always a great movie that is endlessly rewatchable.
Like a true A Lister, his inability to age only furthers his legend and divinity, with Cruise looking like the youngest fifty-nine-year-old in human history. Movie stars have familiar traits and aspects to their acting they repeatedly deploy across movies. For Cruise, his intensity, facetiousness, strangely enthralling yelling, and distinctive running style are all seen time and time again. To me, Cruise is at his best when he’s either loud and dominating or when measured and taciturn.
Both can perfectly be seen in that courtroom scene in A Few Good Men. Nicholson deservedly received praise for the scene, even receiving a supporting actor Oscar nomination effectively for it alone, but to me the better actor in the scene is Cruise. Tom’s ability to suck the attention of the viewer entirely onto himself, through his engrossing magnetism and acting skill, builds the scene to a point where it almost didn’t matter what Nicholson brought to the table. So, to me, Cruise’s work in the scene is far more difficult and impressive than what Nicholson provides.
The Legend of Tom Cruise: 2001-2021
First of all, apologies, I was not expecting this to be this long, and ya boy most definitely does not have the time to edit this down, so congrats if you’re still reading. Shifting now to the next two decades of Cruise’s career: Mission impossible 2-7, The Last Samurai, Collateral, Jack Reacher 1-2, Edge of Tomorrow, Oblivion, Top Gun 2. Two decades of classic after classic gave Cruise a level of power rarely seen in Hollywood, and to me he uses it to establish and promulgate ‘The Legend of Tom Cruise.’ He transitions into becoming almost exclusively an action star, playing himself in every movie with little variation or nuance (also known as becoming a student of the Jason Bateman School of acting). Some argue the catalyst for this substantial shift in Cruise’s career was his lack of an Oscar win for Magnolia, with Cruise consequently shunning traditional dramatic acting. To continue the sports analogy, Cruise’s power build up is like Michael Jordan transitioning into becoming an NBA Franchise owner, except Cruise took it a step further by establishing himself as a player-coach-owner.
When you have such power, you obviously must let everyone know how great you are. TOM CRUISE DOES HIS OWN STUNTS. HE HUNG ON THE SIDE OF A PLANE FOR MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, DID YOU HEAR? HE BROKE HIS ANKLE DOING A STUNT! HE WANTS TO GO TO SPACE FOR A MOVIE! HE FLEW PLANES FOR TOP GUN! ALSO DID YOU HEAR HOW X PERSON TOLD HIM X STUNT WAS TOO DANGEROUS BUT HE DID IT ANYWAY? WOW! TOM CRUISE, WHAT A LEGEND. This legend creating is not only applied to acting, with many articles discussing how Tommy boy is the one calling all the shots on his films, by being a hands-on and intimately involved producer. Are we really going to believe the “leaked” audio of him ‘politely’ talking to his cast and crew, while also talking about how seemingly all of Hollywood calls him all the time just magically appeared? It could be argued that it was instead the careful cultivation of a brand - Cruise remains a beloved cultural figure, drawing eyes to screens simply for the purpose of seeing him, his schtick, and his production efforts.
Well, we’re now scarily deep into this, so it’s probably time to wrap it up. Travelling through Tom Cruise’s four-decade career has hopefully illuminated to both you and to me why he's been able to achieve this incredible career. To close, this clip of Cruise opening the 2002 Oscars is a perfect example of his skills as an actor, his magnetism, and his deeply engaging ability to tell a story. Tom Cruise: a true movie star.
Tim is a First Year Student.
Volume 20, Issue 10
Dear Ousted and Offline,
This question is predicated on lawyers and law students not only having the time to socialise but wanting to. This is incorrect. Therefore, there are no secret social channels for lawyers beyond the company Slack group and Microsoft Teams chat. If you are thirsting for some kind of outlet, the cesspool that is Twitter is ready and waiting for your extremely unimaginative and uncontroversial auspol opinions.
Want to talk to your friends and family? Make the bold move and pick up the phone.
Your Learned Friend
Volume 20, Issue 10
This vaccination rollout has felt like the worst group project imaginable. I never thought I would have to again depend upon the kids in high school science who did nothing during class – not after VCE. But alas, the freedom of my family, friends, and myself now depends upon these people yet again. Without coercive measures of sorts, the vaccine hesitancy of these individuals would likely have prevailed.
Now, hopefully, it won’t.
Vaccines provide individual protection (in most cases), but they work best in their ability to create herd immunity. The concept of herd immunity is simple: the more people vaccinated, the fewer people there are who are able to carry the virus and facilitate its replication for prolonged periods of time. Thus, there is less virus around. This is especially important because vaccines don’t actually produce efficacious immune responses in all individuals (esp. the elderly, immunocompromised, etc), nor are all individuals safely able to get vaccines for health reasons.
I used to think vaccine hesitancy was pure selfishness – and I still do, to some extent – but now I can also appreciate the effect the government’s poor vaccine messaging has had on vaccine uptake. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe – they have been approved by Australia’s thorough, rigorous standards. Of course, there are risks associated with the vaccines, but that is literally the case for most medicines and vaccines. Yet, these COVID-19 vaccines have been utterly demonised by people who should have known better, even before they were deemed mandatory.
We are living through the first coronavirus pandemic in recorded history. Consequently, coronaviruses, unlike the plethora of influenza strains, have not been studied as thoroughly, making them unpredictable. Neither SARS nor MERS became pandemic, ultimately disappearing by themselves– SARS-CoV-19 (COVID-19) has not. Scientists have been trying to make a coronavirus vaccine since the SARS outbreak (2002-2004) and their research has essentially culminated in the production of the vaccines we can freely access today (albeit, for a different coronavirus). The biotechnology that went into the production of the Astra-Zeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer vaccines in Australia all benefited from years of SARS-initiated research and, of course, supercharged funding. People don’t realise how poorly funded medical research usually is, and how this inevitably affects the speed in which new medicines and prophylactics are produced.