Internship vs Clerkship (1 Viewer)

kevindebruyne

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What is the difference between an internship and a clerkship? Are they undertaken during uni or after one graduates? Thanks!
 

jimmysmith560

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An internship is a period of work experience offered by an employer to give university students and graduates exposure to the work environment. The experience gained from an internship usually relates to the student/graduate's field of study. Depending on the specific field/industry, certain internships may have as a requirement that a student is either currently studying a relevant university degree, or that the applicant has completed a Bachelor's degree relevant to the field/industry of the internship. Some internships may restrict their internships to graduates by only considering applicants who have completed a relevant Bachelor's degree.

Internships are not restricted to the legal profession and can be offered by employers in various fields/industries.

Clerkships are more relevant to the legal industry. A clerkship refers to a short period during which a law student works at a law firm. As far as I'm aware, clerkships are important because you may not be eligible to receive a graduate offer at certain firms if you did not undertake a clerkship there prior. Based on this, it seems that legal clerkships are undertaken by university students (typically in their penultimate or final year of their law degree) as the aim is for students to maximise their chances of receiving a graduate employment offer after they complete their clerkship and subsequently their degree.

I hope this helps! :D
 

kevindebruyne

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An internship is a period of work experience offered by an employer to give university students and graduates exposure to the work environment. The experience gained from an internship usually relates to the student/graduate's field of study. Depending on the specific field/industry, certain internships may have as a requirement that a student is either currently studying a relevant university degree, or that the applicant has completed a Bachelor's degree relevant to the field/industry of the internship. Some internships may restrict their internships to graduates by only considering applicants who have completed a relevant Bachelor's degree.

Internships are not restricted to the legal profession and can be offered by employers in various fields/industries.

Clerkships are more relevant to the legal industry. A clerkship refers to a short period during which a law student works at a law firm. As far as I'm aware, clerkships are important because you may not be eligible to receive a graduate offer at certain firms if you did not undertake a clerkship there prior. Based on this, it seems that legal clerkships are undertaken by university students (typically in their penultimate or final year of their law degree) as the aim is for students to maximise their chances of receiving a graduate employment offer after they complete their clerkship and subsequently their degree.

I hope this helps! :D
Thanks Jimmy!! Helps a lot!
 

jimmysmith560

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secret_3 said:
Hello wonderful people (I'm really hoping this forum is still active on topics like these !!) --> as the title suggests, im enquiring about clerkships. It's that time of the year, and the stress is building up (yay!) To put it simply, can someone assist in providing a guideline to how I can basically guarantee a clerkship at top tier firms (e.g. Allens, minter ellison, Herbert Smith Freehills, ashurst, Clayton, baker Mckenzie etc etc). Im just the type of person who wants assurance : ))

Some questions I have include
- WAM cutoff (put simply, is 70+ ok?? if I don't have 77+ will I not get a clerkship offer at Allens ?? do you know anyone who has attained offers with a wam of 70?? how important is law wam only? what are different looking for etc etc?
- type of experience needed?
- law journal stuff ??

I know it's a ramble but I thought id try my shot!

any advice you have is greatly appreciated < 3
I will attempt to respond to your post based on my knowledge of the legal industry. I will note that I did not study law, meaning that I did not experience this process myself. However, as someone who studied HR, I can perhaps highlight some elements relevant to recruitment that you may wish to consider in the case of clerkships. My post will also bump your thread, which will hopefully increase the chance of someone else providing more direct advice.

Your WAM is one way through which you can demonstrate your work ethic and the areas of law that you have excelled in. Generally speaking, the higher your WAM, the more competitive you will be relative to other applicants, and more importantly, the more credible your application will be. A WAM of 70 is in the credit range. As far as I am aware, this is not sufficient to maximise your chances, especially if other students have been consistently performing at a similar standard. My understanding is that a distinction WAM can enhance your competitiveness.

With that being said, your WAM will not be the only element that will be assessed by the firms that you intend to apply to. Important elements include work experience, which can assist you in demonstrating that you possess the required set of skills to successfully work in a legal environment. Any employment opportunity relevant to law that you may have had up until this point may be beneficial in terms of your application, although non-law experience that you may have also present a positive impact, especially if it allows you to demonstrate a particular quality to an employer.

Another important element that you may wish to consider in your search for clerkships is your involvement in extracurricular activities. These can support the notion that you are a well-rounded applicant, as opposed to an individual who only focuses on their academic performance or their work experience.

I hope this helps! :D
 

sheppy123

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secret_3 said:
Hello wonderful people (I'm really hoping this forum is still active on topics like these !!) --> as the title suggests, im enquiring about clerkships. It's that time of the year, and the stress is building up (yay!) To put it simply, can someone assist in providing a guideline to how I can basically guarantee a clerkship at top tier firms (e.g. Allens, minter ellison, Herbert Smith Freehills, ashurst, Clayton, baker Mckenzie etc etc). Im just the type of person who wants assurance : ))

Some questions I have include
- WAM cutoff (put simply, is 70+ ok?? if I don't have 77+ will I not get a clerkship offer at Allens ?? do you know anyone who has attained offers with a wam of 70?? how important is law wam only? what are different looking for etc etc?
- type of experience needed?
- law journal stuff ??

I know it's a ramble but I thought id try my shot!

any advice you have is greatly appreciated < 3
You need a distinction wam minimum for big six firms; otherwise, good luck. I'll be shocked if you can find me a law grad or someone on a clerkship with a credit average at any law school. Also, if you go somewhere like UTS or Macquarie with a 70 wam, they won't even look at your application. From what I've been told, you'd be competitive amongst the applicants for Allens and Freehills with a go8 HD, you'd still be fine with a distinction for Ashurst, minter Ellison however you can't be lacking in the other parts of your application. You need good extracurriculars (societies, clubs, sports teams etc.) and don't think just your grades will get you in and these impressive extracurriculars; you need to nail the interview; that's how they narrow it all down in the end.
 

sheppy123

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Thanks so muchhhh!! just a question, you mentioned a distinction wam to be competitive, is that a distinction wam (including law + my other degree) or a law wam?? if I have a 70 something wam for comm and 75+ for law, do you think that's fine?

also, how common is it to have a HD wam in law? from my understanding, its really reallyndifficult with probably only like 1 person achieving so in the cohort??


1. Yes, you need high grades across the board for both degrees, distinction minimum. A credit isn't going to cut it, your application won't even be looked at..
2. A HD wam is uncommon and very difficult to achieve, especially if you're going to USYD where they do that stupid bell curve for grades.
 

sheppy123

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following on, say I get a job as a legal assistant or paralegal at one of those firms, do you think there'll still be a focus on grades? I went through some personal circumstances in my first two years and that bogged down my whole marks so im pretty stressed
Bottom line, distinction at the absolute least, and you need a great resume as well. You have to understand that people will work at these firms for free, there are so many applicants out there, you must stand out. It's harsh but that is just the way things are. Allens, Freehills and all the other big six firms want the best of the best.

Also the university is sort of important, do you attend a go8?
 

RivalryofTroll

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Hello wonderful people (I'm really hoping this forum is still active on topics like these !!) --> as the title suggests, im enquiring about clerkships. It's that time of the year, and the stress is building up (yay!) To put it simply, can someone assist in providing a guideline to how I can basically guarantee a clerkship at top tier firms (e.g. Allens, minter ellison, Herbert Smith Freehills, ashurst, Clayton, baker Mckenzie etc etc). Im just the type of person who wants assurance : ))

Some questions I have include
- WAM cutoff (put simply, is 70+ ok?? if I don't have 77+ will I not get a clerkship offer at Allens ?? do you know anyone who has attained offers with a wam of 70?? how important is law wam only? what are different looking for etc etc?
- type of experience needed?
- law journal stuff ??

I know it's a ramble but I thought id try my shot!

any advice you have is greatly appreciated < 3
Hi,

Current lawyer here and went through the clerkship application process back in the day.

WAM cut off
Without knowing your university, I will say that, as a general rule, 70+ Law WAM is probably the bare minimum (and by no means "competitive") for any top tiers. Also, law firms tend to only care about your law average specifically (your combined double degree WAM or other degree WAM will probably be less relevant).

A distinction (75+) average is competitive for most, if not all, firms. A 80+ average would probably make you stand out.

Back then, my law average was in the 70-75 range at a GO8 (with my overall WAM being in the mid to high 70s) and I was able to get interviews with 3 firms (including 2 of the "Top 8" firms). I ultimately didn't get any clerkship offers but I would attribute that outcome to weaker performances in my final round interviews.

I'd say marks are very important (probably being the most important factor in an application) and are the easiest way to stand out. Some firms traditionally care more about marks than others (e.g. HSF and Allens). However, as you would know, marks aren't the sole criteria. If you have a weaker WAM, then there are other ways to stand out. See below.

Experience

There is no magic formula here. There are successful candidates with noteworthy legal or extracurricular experience (e.g. paralegal at a big firm, research assistant to a barrister, etc.). Equally, there are people who score clerkship offers without any prior legal experience and only, say, retail experience.

Generally, favourable experience includes (but is not limited to) legal experience, other professional experience (e.g. formal internships in other fields such as tax, consulting, etc.), extracurricular activities (e.g. president of law student society, winner of mooting competitions and similar competitions, leadership roles in student societies, etc.) and "interesting" personal interests (e.g. sports, side projects, start ups, etc.).

However, there is ultimately no real guaranteed method of securing a clerkship offer.

The reality is that you'll probably have an easier time if law firms see that you have, say, a 84 Law WAM (as they will fight for the most technically excellent students). However, even if one had a Law WAM in the first class honours range, other factors such as your experience, your application (including resume, cover, answers to application questions) and your performance at interviews will still matter.

Happy to elaborate if you have any further questions.
 

RivalryofTroll

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following on, say I get a job as a legal assistant or paralegal at one of those firms, do you think there'll still be a focus on grades? I went through some personal circumstances in my first two years and that bogged down my whole marks so im pretty stressed
Normally, a paralegal role at a big firm will make you more competitive for that firm or other big firms. However, I have known people who had paralegal roles at certain firms but didn't get clerkship/graduate offers from those firms.

Having legal experience doesn't mean marks are no longer important. However, good legal experience will probably help compensate for a weaker WAM.

If there is an upward trend in your law marks, I would think about how to "sell" that upward trend in your application if you are concerned.

1. Yes, you need high grades across the board for both degrees, distinction minimum. A credit isn't going to cut it, your application won't even be looked at..
2. A HD wam is uncommon and very difficult to achieve, especially if you're going to USYD where they do that stupid bell curve for grades.
I have known people who got clerkship offers with credit averages in Law. That said, it is not particularly common and these people had to really stand out in other ways.

However, I also appreciate that a weak WAM probably wouldn't cut it for say HSF, Allens or KWM. However, there are plenty of top tier and mid tier law firms that will take a look at a respectable credit average.
 

sheppy123

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Normally, a paralegal role at a big firm will make you more competitive for that firm or other big firms. However, I have known people who had paralegal roles at certain firms but didn't get clerkship/graduate offers from those firms.

Having legal experience doesn't mean marks are no longer important. However, good legal experience will probably help compensate for a weaker WAM.

If there is an upward trend in your law marks, I would think about how to "sell" that upward trend in your application if you are concerned.



I have known people who got clerkship offers with credit averages in Law. That said, it is not particularly common and these people had to really stand out in other ways.

However, I also appreciate that a weak WAM probably wouldn't cut it for say HSF, Allens or KWM. However, there are plenty of top tier and mid tier law firms that will take a look at a respectable credit average.

Which top tier firms are looking at a credit average and even considering reading more than just their marks?

ANSWER: Firms like that don't exist.
 

RivalryofTroll

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Thank you so so much. Just a few follow up questions:

With respect to experience, is there a period of time you think is adequate (e.g. years as opposed to months)? How important is mooting and other skill comps?
I don't think there's any magic number for what is "adequate" length for experience. In any case, common sense would say that the longer the better - the more experience you have, the easier it'll be for you to talk about your experience in interviews. Hard to talk about complex paralegal work if you've only done it for 1-2 months. However, just be wary that any work experience should not come at the significant expense of your academic results. You'll need to, of course, strike the right balance.

I never really did any of the skills competitions (apart from one or two rounds of mooting). I'm sure there are clerks who never did any of them. Also, you really need to do well in them to stand out. Simply participating won't make you a competitive candidate for clerkships.
 

mmmmmmmmaaaaaaa

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You need a distinction wam minimum for big six firms; otherwise, good luck. I'll be shocked if you can find me a law grad or someone on a clerkship with a credit average at any law school. Also, if you go somewhere like UTS or Macquarie with a 70 wam, they won't even look at your application. From what I've been told, you'd be competitive amongst the applicants for Allens and Freehills with a go8 HD, you'd still be fine with a distinction for Ashurst, minter Ellison however you can't be lacking in the other parts of your application. You need good extracurriculars (societies, clubs, sports teams etc.) and don't think just your grades will get you in and these impressive extracurriculars; you need to nail the interview; that's how they narrow it all down in the end.
This is not true
 

RivalryofTroll

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Just adding on as well, one of my main concerns is that I'm really tossed up on what to focus on. when I attended firm presentations, career fairs etc, recruiters mentioned they "don't have a wam cut off" and look at the application as a 'whole'. im involved in mooting, exec positions, and have some experience in chambers, but now im concerned that I put all my effort in and its all gone to waste because of my wam.
I can't give you any real reassurance if that's what you're looking for.

However, don't write yourself off for any firm. Do the best with what you have and apply far and wide. If you're serious about getting a clerkship offer, don't limit yourself to just the Top 8 or international firms like Bakers or CC.

I suggest reading this article on how to "stand out" as an applicant (containing guidance from the HSF graduate recruitment manager).
 
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