What to do if you didn't get a clerkship

It's clerkship season. Law students all around Australia dread those words. Why? Because it means days of cover letter writing and meticulous knit picking on the finer details of your resume. Not to mention the psychometric testing, because we all know how important those are...

I know what you're thinking - “why do we sound so jaded? Clerkships are a great way for students to get experience in the legal world”. Well, that might be true to some extent. But the pressure that this process puts on law students is unnecessary. One thing that most students tend to lose sight of during this process is how few people actually get clerkship offers. There are hundreds of people who apply for less than 30 clerkships in each firm. You invest so much time and energy into making a good impression, only to be rejected. And it sucks because you're left with a heap of questions that will just never get answered.

That's where LawLancer comes in. We believe that clerkships are not the be all and end all, no matter what your employer, university or friends tell you. There are heaps of alternative ways to gain experience in the legal world.

If you want to be a lawyer, you need to be persistent

Sheer persistence pays off. Rather than wallowing in your own self-pity for not getting a clerkship, get back out there! Develop your interview style, get work experience and go to networking events. Clerkship rejection isn't the end of the road. If you desperately want to work in a specific firm that declined your clerkship application, remember that there’s more than one path to getting to your final destination, and taking the scenic route can bring valuable experience, in both work and life.

But remember to be kind to yourself

Law students tend to be competitive by nature and can become disillusioned when faced with rejection. But you need to remember that you are your harshest critic and that everyone faces rejection at one point or another. Look at it as character building. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. All that jazz! Instead of beating yourself up that you didn't get a clerkship, try to acknowledge that you are only human. Don't give up on a law degree because you don't think you're not good enough. Trust us, you are!

Your journey isn't even close to over

If you only take one thing away from this blog, remember, that if you truly, desperately want to be a lawyer, you will be one. Not getting a clerkship means very little in the scheme of your legal career, and to be honest, it just means you have a myriad of other opportunities that you can chase now that you aren't locked into one firm. In fact, you might find that your calling is actually outside the law. Point being, try something different… you’ll be surprised by where it may take you.

As Tim Minchin once said:

“Be micro-ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you… you never know where you might end up. Just be aware that the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery. Which is why you should be careful of long-term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye.”

LawLancer