A legal clerkship is traditionally a summer program (though some private practice firms do offer a different seasonal placement) that provides you with a taste of working in a multi-disciplinary professional services firm.
For students who are hoping to work in private practice, a clerkship is an integral part of doing so. While a clerkship is not a prerequisite for working in private practice, it is a key stepping stone and the preferred method of recruitment for private practice firms as clerks are usually converted in to Graduates at the end of their program. It is important to note that while this is the most popular path to private practice it is not the only one.
Law firms that offer clerkship programs
The majority of mid and top tier law firms offer formal seasonal clerkship programs.Most boutique law firms will offer some kind of volunteering or internship opportunity. This is usually for PLT students, and they will look to hire at the graduate level instead.
Length of the program
Clerkships mostly range from 4-15 weeks but the number of weeks differs depending on the firm. The number of weeks may also alter year to year.
Program structure and aims, overview
The clerkship begins with an orientation, which can last up to two weeks, where students will be able to meet each other, their supervisors and the rest of their rotation groups. Students then begin their training under a specific department. The content of the program loosely follow:
- Being taught the tools necessary for professional growth and career advancement. Clerks have unlimited access to training and guidance and hence learn a great deal about the firm and how it conducts business.
- Gaining the opportunity to connect with people who can help guide careers. This also gives clerks the opportunity to build professional networks and interact with colleagues across divisions and regions.
- Receiving formal training followed by division- specific or department-specific training. This training is ongoing and based on specific skill needs and interests which will bolster professional development though learning in the workplace.
- Undergo formal evaluation procedures as a part of the firm’s annual Performance Review Process, which includes a self-assessment as well as input from peers, managers and internal business partners.
Work on offer
General tasks that clerks complete include:
- Performing legal and factual research
- Drafting and summarising legal documents, checking for accuracy
- Preparing correspondence, written reports and performing records research
- Organising and tracking case files
- Writing clients memos
- Recording client meetings and drafting daily correspondence, including letters and legal documents
- Attending meetings and court with lawyers
- Assisting in the preparation of matters for hearings
Details on rotations
As a summer clerk you’ll undertake a formal rotation between 2-3 practice areas so that you get exposure to a variety of work and learning opportunities. Common rotations include (but are not limited to):
- Commercial disputes
- Dispute resolution
- Public Law
- Family law
- Employment, workplace and safety
- Banking and finance
- Financial services
- Corporate, mergers and acquisitions
- Construction, property, real estate and projects
- Environment and planning
- Intellectual property
- Technology, media and telecommunications
- Pro bono
The salary for a clerkship does vary firm to firm. Remuneration can range from $700 to $1000 per week, plus superannuation for mid-top to top tier firms, though sometimes amounts can sit outside these parameters.
2018 Clerkship Program Key Dates
- Monday 18 June - Applications for summer clerkships open.
- Sunday 15 July - Applications for summer clerkships close at 11:59pm.
- Wednesday 26 September - Offers for summer clerkships can be made.
- Friday 28 September - Offers for summer clerkships must be accepted or declined by 5.00pm.
For more information
From 2017 onward, students and employers will have the chance to connect more systematically and discover more on internships, volunteer positions and similar opportunities via LegalVitae.
LegalVitae is the Law Society’s new jobs portal designed to showcase a full range of available positions to law students.
For more information on who can participate, please view the Clerkship Program Participation Guidelines.