Volume 20, Issue 4
Dear Spiralling at Seven Seeds,
While a judgemental shrew at times, I try my best not to be a hypocrite. Having also just thrown myself on the altar of the commercial firms, I’m not going to harp on about the ways in which the clerkship process is ‘fundamentally broken’, ‘based on nepotism’ or ‘entrenched in elitism’. It is, but that doesn’t mean the desire to succeed within, or even in spite of this system isn’t still there. So rather than taking a carton of eggs on my next daily walk past 101 Collins, I’m instead going to treat you to some of my favourite, frustratingly true cliches.
“CROSS THAT BRIDGE WHEN YOU GET TO IT!”
First and foremost, applications closed a few days ago. It will be a little while before those rejections start flowing, if that is even what’s headed your way. Short of some psychometric tests over the next few weeks, there’s nothing you can really do between now and then. Let’s pause the spiral until it’s at least warranted and try not to fail Corps in the meantime.
If that rejection tap does start flowing, then it’s go-time on the spiralling. Feel like shit, have a cry, engage in some self-care. Now, self-care doesn’t necessarily mean spending $72 on bath bombs and doing pilates. Rather, do something that will actually feel good and help you unwind. Go scream in the park, drink wine in the shower, bleach your hair, text an ex or have a 17-hour depression nap. Whatever you need to do, get it done. Rejection stings, put on some ointment and once it stops hurting, take the bandage off. (If you find you’re feeling particularly low about the whole process, beyond normal disappointment and frustration, it may be time to reach out and have a chat with someone.**)
“EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON!”
At worst this is a speed bump on the road to becoming Harvey Specter, at best it’s a freeway exit to the right path. If you want to be a lawyer, and I mean really want to be a lawyer, you’ll find a way in. This doesn’t have to change your life plan if you don’t want it to. Will getting a grad offer at a T6 be significantly more difficult without clerking? Yes. Is your dream of being a lawyer now completely down the drain? No. Even commercial firms have alternate ways of getting in down the line, let alone the large volume of boutique firms or other practice areas you could apply to.
If you were never that keen on commercial law, even better! This could be the kick you needed to do some soul searching and figure out that you’d rather get serious about your WAG career than wear ugly suits and practice law for the rest of your life.
“[INSERT BILLIONAIRE] DROPPED OUT AND LOOK WHERE THEY ARE NOW!”
Now I’m not advocating for dropping out, although it's definitely on the table. My main point, however, is that no one is too good to fail. The clerkship process is fickle and, after a certain point, largely luck based. Failing at it is not an indictment on you personally. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad law student or will make a bad lawyer. The Dissenter-in-Chief himself, the Hon Michael Kirby failed to get a single offer from any of the top Sydney firms back in the day. Now don’t let your ego get too inflated, getting rejected by 20 firms doesn’t mean you’re the next Kirby, it means you’re not special. Spend your time wallowing, dust yourself off, and keep it moving – you’re not out of the game yet.
Your Learned Friend
** The MLS is already a struggle without the added burden of COVID-19, and there is no shame in reaching out if the struggle is more intense than usual. If you or someone else needs support, contact Lifeline at 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue at 1300 224 636.