Clerkships are stepping stones to assist students in exploring their career options, as well as a method for firms to recruit eventual graduates. They are designed to teach students the tools required for professional growth, career advancement, and legal training and guidance.
A clerkship is a program that allows you to work within a professional setting at private practice firms. It is useful for students hoping to either work in private practice or even discover how the law works outside of the courtroom.
However, not to be confused, a clerkship is NOT a prerequisite to eventually work in private practice. It is simply one of the many stepping stones into private practice.
In New South Wales, clerkships are typically open to law students in years 2, 3 and 4. It would therefore be reasonable to start thinking about or looking into clerkship oppourtunities towards the end of years 1 or 2.
It is recommended that students follow their university up-dates to ensure they apply for clerkships on time.
It is good to kow that in Victoria and state other than NSW, penultimate year students are preferred.
More information about when students should start thinking about clerkships can be found here.
The following guides also provide information on when students start thinking about clerkships:
The following law firms in NSW offer clerkship programs:
- Clifford Chance
- Gilbert + Tobin
- King & Wood Mallesons
- Herbert Smith Freehills
- Clayton Utz
- DLA Piper
- McCullough Robertson Lawyers
- Norton Rose Fulbright
- Baker McKenzie
- Barry Nilsson
- Bartier Perry
- Bird & Bird
- Carroll& O’Dea
- Clyde & Co.
- Coleman Creig
- Colin Biggers & Paisley
- Corrs Chambers Westgrath Lawyers
- Davies Collison Cave
- FB Rice
- FPA Patent Attorneys
- Hall & Wilcox Lawyers
- HFW Lawyers
- Holding Redlich
- Hunt & Hunt Lawyers
- Jackson McDonald
- Latern Legal Group
- Landers & Rogers
- McCabe Curwood
- McInnes Wilson Lawyers
- Moray & Agnew
- Russell Kennedy
- Sparke Helmore Lawyers
- Thomas Geer
- Wooton Kearney Insurance Lawyers
More information about clerkships can be found here.
In NSW, clerkships are often offered as part-time jobs alongside students’ studies.
Firms may also offer clerkships that range from 4-15 weeks (depending on the firm).
In Victoria, clerkships are offered as 3-4 week programs during university breaks. Penultimate law students are given priority.
More information about student legal careers and clerkship timespans can be found here.
- Professional carrer achievement and growth.
- Provide the necessary training and guidance to successed in future legal endevours.
- Learn how the law works through its various facets and forms in a corporate setting.
- Learn about conducting a law firm and business.
- Meet new people who are able to provide you with the necessary advice and guidance to assist you on your own path.
- Building professional networks and contacts that become helpful when looking for other oppourtunities outside of your clerkship.
- Skill-building, both on a legal and professional level.
- Become more consistent in your work, through self-evaluations and adapting to the business environment of consistent performance.
Clerkships expose law students to a variety of skill-building and educational opportunities. These opportunities assist in granting clerks the necessary tools and mindset to become accustom the practical nature of the law, which is the corporate legal environment. It also grants students the opportunity to discover potential career-pathways by uncovering the array of facets which embody the law.
During your clerkship placement you’ll get exposure to an array of practice areas of the law they include:
Pro bono is a professional service provided by top tier and mid tier law firms to those who cannot afford them. This team undertakes voluntary legal work to assist in more grassroots and community-based legal work.
Competition and Consumer Production
Specialised area of law, with a specialised group that deal with breaches of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). Essentially, this group focuses on regulating both consumer protections and the competition between businesses.
Energy and Natural Resources
This area of law is increasingly expanding, it covers the regulation of natural resources both on a national and international level. It is embedded with a focus on the concerns of the environment and the economic consequences of environmental impacts. This is relevant to gas mining, fracking, renewable energies and other natural resources.
Intellectual Property (IP)
The IP team of firms is in the business of developing and maintaining effective protection of commercial brands. The IP team ensures that IP rights are upheld, and launches litigation against breaches of such rights.
Corporate Law is typically subdivided into very integral sections, mergers and acqusitions, governance, fund management and private equity. All these sections contribute to the application of corporate litigation and transactions.
Employment and Industrial Relations Law
This area of practice covers an important part of the law which ensures the protection of rights of workers. The team responsible for this area deals with contracts, employment disputes, unfair dismissals, discrimination (sexual, race etc.) and safety of workers.
Insolvency covers the relationship between companies and stakeholders, ranging from debt recovery to transactional matters and corporate restructuring.
Litigation and Dispute Resolution
This group assists in resolving disputes by providing advice in order to mitigate disputes and preventative measures to ensure the minimal risk to dispute reoccurring.
The area of property usually covers matter relating directly to construction, infrastructure and even the environment.
This practice provides a practical legal application approach to issues based on tax. It deals with backgrounds in financing and accounting.
Banking and Finance
Deals with debt-based matters of corporations transactions, which covers a range of issues from contract arrangements, debt capital markets and finance etc.
- Usually open in early June – Applications for summer clerkships open.
- Usually open in early July to late July – Applications for summer clerkships close.
- Usually open in mid September – Offers for summer clerkships can be made.
- Usually open in late September – Offers for summer clerkships must be accepted or declined by 5.00pm.
2021 Clerkship Program Key Dates include:
- Tuesday 8 June – Applications for summer clerkships open.
- Sunday 4 July and midnight 14 July – Applications for summer clerkships close.
- Wednesday 15 September – Offers for summer clerkships can be made.
- Thursday 16 September – Offers for summer clerkships must be accepted or declined by 5.00pm.
Law firms in many cases will all open clerkship applications at the same time in accordance with their local law societies.
Key dates for specific law firms and clerkship availabilities through the academic calendar can be found in the guides such as the MULS Clerkship guide and the UNSW Law Society Private Law Careers Guide 2021.
To learn about the application process see the MULS Clerkship guide (pages 14-38) for guidance on a range of matters including:
- Where to start?
- What do firms look for?
- Tips on refining your CV, Interview
- Networking tips
- First & Second round offers/interviews
- What to do when you do or do not receive an offer.
We are here to help. Get in touch and we’ll do our best to respond soon.