For most law students, the next few months may be the most intensive, stressful, and formative parts of your legal careers so far. At Anika Legal, we want to be with you during this process, making sure you are as informed as you can be about all things clerkships.
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To help you on your clerkship journey, we’ve assembled some amazing Anika team members who have gone through the whole process themselves, and are keen to share all of their gems of wisdom.
Firstly, we’ll start with where you’re all at now: the application process.
Work on clerkships begins even before applications open. When you’re organising yourself juggling multiple applications, preparation is key to make sure you’re on top of everything. It’s also important to pace yourself and work strategically to ensure you put your best foot forward at every stage of the application period.
“If you have a couple of firms in mind that you really want, don't do those ones first, and also don't do them last. Do them in the middle, because by the end, you're a little worn down, and at the start, you’re still feeling your way,” says Content Manager Kathryn Quinn.
However, some firms may need an application in sooner rather than later.
“A caveat to that is to identify the firms that do their interviews on a rolling basis rather than just assess all of them after the applications close,” Product Manager Jess Nashed says.
Your CV is one of the documents that is likely to stay the same across all applications, so getting it in top shape is essential.
Apart from the standard CV tips – like keeping it 2 pages, and making sure it is easy to read – Kathryn advises not to discount the retail gigs or nannying jobs you may have. A lot of the time these experiences instill many skills that are essential when becoming a lawyer, including communication, prioritising tasks and taking instructions.
“I learned so much patience from working in retail, and learned how to deal with people in quite different situations, so don't leave experiences off just because it's not law-related,” Kathryn explains.
This also extends to your personal interests and hobbies. Your application is meant to tell recruiters about you, so make sure you include enough about yourself for them to have a full idea of who you are.
“My interviewers focused on quirky things that I was into, rather than delving into my legal experience. This made it easier to build a personal connection with the interviewer. Interests and hobbies are something that a lot of people leave off, but are super important,” Jess says.
The objective of your cover letter is to convince the firm that you are the best candidate for the role. Head of Product, Nathan Ramanlal, describes it as a ‘sales process’:
“You are more likely to sell a product to a customer if you emphasise how the product will satisfy the customer’s needs, rather than listing all of the fancy features of the product. And you should follow the same approach when preparing your cover letter. Instead of listing all of your fancy features (which is the role of your CV), your cover letter should identify the specific skills that the firm is looking for in their ideal applicant, and then provide examples of past experience to demonstrate that you have those skills.”
It’s also important to note that firms want to hear about you, not themselves. A cover letter shouldn’t be a highlight reel of a firm’s website.
“Firms are already aware of their own achievements. Definitely speak about the firm, but be sure to link it to why it engages you personally,” Jess explains.
Finally, some firms will have application questions for you to provide a short response. These are usually there to test your commerciality and communication skills. Essentially, you want to show that you’re aware of the issues facing law firms, and can speak to those issues in a clear and concise way.
“Commercial firms tend to ask these questions because they want to be able to get a quick sense of which applicants are tapped into real-world issues, not just their law textbooks. Picking up a recent copy of the Australian Financial Review newspaper is a great place to start,” Nathan says.
We hope these tips ensure you can make the most of this application period, and put your best foot forward!
Be sure to follow Anika on social media to keep up to date with our upcoming AniCareer blogs, where we tackle everything from networking, to offer day, to making sure you make the most out of your clerkship.
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