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Fourth year law student - ask me anything! (1 Viewer)

lawfiend

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Hi guys,
Ben here. I am a fourth year University of Sydney law student and am about to start my clerkship at Allens (a top tier law firm) within the next few weeks. A couple of years ago (although it definitely seems more than that!) I sat in front of my computer with tons of questions about law. I received quite a lot of help and, as such, would love to give back. I am open to any/all questions within reason.
I have been involved in quite a few things while at uni so feel free to ask about that too.

For those that don't know, a clerkship is basically an internship with around 95-100% chance of guaranteeing a grad job afterwards. Allens-Linklaters is one of the top 3 firms within Australia and is regularly involved in some of the biggest cases there are in Australia.

Ask away!
 

iStudent

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Is law as intense as they say? (in terms of hours of study each week, content or the like)

What's the pass rate at USYD?

How'd you land the clerkship? (Connections, excellent resume/grades, luck?)
 

strawberrye

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Are there any tips you can give in relation to maximising your chances in the recruitment processes for Linklaters and is prior experience in a legal firm essential to securing a job in the top firms?

Thank you for your generosity and giving back to the community. As a third year law student, I will be extremely grateful to hear your insights and experiences and learn from them :)
 
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Squar3root

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Do you regret chosing law?


Why did you want to do law? And are those the same things that motivate you now?
 

isildurrrr1

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Are there any tips you can give in relation to maximising your chances in the recruitment processes for Linklaters and is prior experience in a legal firm essential to securing a job in the top firms?

Thank you for your generosity and giving back to the community. As a third year law student, I will be extremely grateful to hear your insights and experiences and learn from them :)
Allens want the cream of the crop.

On rumourville they also want your grades all the way back to primary school.

pree much you need a D+ wam, have some work experience, do some law comps (mooting etc), be involved in either volunteering/sport etc should be all g. then it just boils to interviews.
 

RivalryofTroll

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What was your preparation like for the application process and interviews?

How did you spend the summer holidays (end of third year/start of fourth year) before clerkship season?
 

Aerath

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Well, I thought I would contribute a bit. Bit of nostalgia being around here againnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

By way of context, graduated from high school in 2009, from uni in 2014, work at a mid-tier in Sydney (and my partner just quit his top-tier job). I work in insurance law. I clerked and gradded at my current firm. I was a paralegal during uni at the top tier (same place where my partner worked).

Is law as intense as they say? (in terms of hours of study each week, content or the like)
No, law students are just bigger drama queens (stereotyping a bit, we're generally all type A personalities). I consider every discipline to be difficult. Stick me in engineering or chemistry and I'd be fucked. The reason why law has a rap of being "hard" is because law students talk louder than most.

It is intense, but, in my view, no more intense than other subjects (well, maybe with the exception of Arts - I did both, and the difference was noticeable there).

What's the pass rate at USYD?
It's generally pretty hard to fail.

How'd you land the clerkship? (Connections, excellent resume/grades, luck?)
I can't speak for OP, but I will say, a combination of good marks, resume (including work experience and co-curricular experience), presenting well in the interview, and of course luck. Some firms use arbitrary "cut offs". Others don't. Apply to all, and don't buy into "oh, this firm uses cut offs, is my mark good enough, no, I won't apply". Apply to all, and you've covered your bases.

Are there any tips you can give in relation to maximising your chances in the recruitment processes for Linklaters and is prior experience in a legal firm essential to securing a job in the top firms?
Do well in law school, get decent grades, learn how to present yourself well on paper and in person. Know the legal market and business and industry. At the clerkship level, it's rare to get technical questions, but commerciality questions are fair game.

Do you regret chosing law?
I don't. I'm lucky to have a job. And I like my job, the work and the people.

But some do.

Why did you want to do law? And are those the same things that motivate you now?
I had always wanted to get into politics. I did a stint in politics, loved it, but it kinda wasn't for me. So law was it. Turns out, I'm fairly decent at it (or so I'd like to think/it's what I tell myself at night).

Things that motivate me now are that a lot of my colleagues are my friends. So that makes it enjoyable. And I enjoy the work.

What was your preparation like for the application process and interviews?
Resumes can be the same across all firms. Cover letters cannot be. And also answer the questions that are asked.

Interviews, just be yourself. That's super cliche, but it's good advice, particularly if you're an extrovert. I'm not, but at the same time, I can carry myself in most conversations. Interview questions fall into 5 distinct categories: motivation ("why do you want a job here? why did you pick commercial law?), resume based (tell me about X job or X society position or X sport), commerciality (what are some of the issues affecting one of our clients? tell me what you know about our firm?) and behavioural (give me a time when you exhibited X trait).

At the clerk level, no firm is going to ask you technical questions.

How did you spend the summer holidays (end of third year/start of fourth year) before clerkship season?
I went on holidays.

------------------------------

Bit more background, I went to Go8, my average was a mid C (71 ish), but I had decent co-curriculars - state volleyball, swimming and national netball (men's netball, so a lot less good than girls'). Also did some stuff around uni.

Got clerkship offers at some Big 6 (incl where I paralegalled) and various mid-tiers.

BF went to Go8, had a 75 average. He had amazing co-curriculars - was a student politician and did nationals netball too. I think he got all the top tiers except maybe KWM.

What I'm getting at that marks are important. But not the be all and end all. But if your marks are around my level (mid C's), be prepared to have decent co-curriculars and a fairly social personality.
 

lawfiend

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Is law as intense as they say? (in terms of hours of study each week, content or the like)

What's the pass rate at USYD?

How'd you land the clerkship? (Connections, excellent resume/grades, luck?)
It is very intense but I find it easier as you get more used to it. There is a lot of content but practice makes perfect and, even though law subjects often vary, there are similarities between them. For example, many of them are best answered by setting them out in IRAC/ILAC. Research essays almost always involve using the same research tools.

Re: USYD specifically - I just want to tell any prospective students that our university is incredibly black letter law. Also, it is a very stressful university to do a law degree at sometimes because for some units we only have 1 exam and that is worth 100%. I don't count how much I study but basically, whenever I don't have another commitment, I'm studying. The 'recommended' hours of study is 40 per week.

I landed a clerkship by (a) having decent grades, (b) having extracurricular and (c) spending a lot of time on my applications. For Allens, you also have to be good at cognitive testing (e.g. short online tests) which I find it annoying as some of my friends who I perceive as just as intelligent as myself missed out because of a 20 minute randomised test.
 
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lawfiend

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Are there any tips you can give in relation to maximising your chances in the recruitment processes for Linklaters and is prior experience in a legal firm essential to securing a job in the top firms?

Thank you for your generosity and giving back to the community. As a third year law student, I will be extremely grateful to hear your insights and experiences and learn from them :)
I don't work for Linklaters so I can't provide tips for it specifically. Allens is ASSOCIATED with Linklaters and is not in fact merged with it. In terms of general recruitment tips, I would say 4 things: (a) grades (D or higher), (b) extra curricular (competitions, exchange and/or executive positions), (c) work experience (preferably as a paralegal) and (d) having a good application (not just having a + b + c but also having a succinct, powerful application).

Prior legal experience is not necessary - I know a couple of individuals who got in with no legal experience. However, they are definitely in the minority.
 

lawfiend

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Do you regret chosing law?
No. No one wants to work long hours and I wish I knew just how overworked the entire legal profession is before I chose to do law (statistics suggest approximately 80% of lawyers do some form of overtime) but there are a lot of professions that go beyond the mythical 9-5. I don't necessarily want to work 10 hour days but, if I have to, I am glad I am doing legal work. Commercial law involves critical thinking, relationship building and gives me a chance to give back to the community - all good things. Oh, and nice harbour views don't hurt either.

Why did you want to do law? And are those the same things that motivate you now?
I wanted to do law because it would give me a steady income and allow me to help other people. In Australia, law is also often associated with intelligence - my parents wanted me to get into law to show off to my relatives if nothing else.

Surprisingly, these are the same things that motivate me. My understanding of law has deepened substantially (when I first started, I thought all lawyers wore wigs and screamed at each other in a court room) but - in the end - I am still motivated by money and the opportunity to change someone else's world for the better.
 

lawfiend

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Allens want the cream of the crop.

On rumourville they also want your grades all the way back to primary school.

pree much you need a D+ wam, have some work experience, do some law comps (mooting etc), be involved in either volunteering/sport etc should be all g. then it just boils to interviews.
They do indeed ask for you ATAR.
 

lawfiend

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What was your preparation like for the application process and interviews?
Very intense.

I started my applications almost immediately after my final exams for semester 1. A lot of my friends laughed at me saying I was being too serious but a good application should take 3-4 hours minimum. The first few took me a day or two each. After all, you have to customise each cover letter and you have to answer (usually) 3-5 questions like 'why commercial law?' or 'why us?' and each of these are approximately 250 words from memory. Sure, some of the firms may ask the same questions/you may only need to modify one paragraph of the cover letter but that still takes time because you have to do research and proofread (e.g. it is very awkward sending a letter addressed to KWM to HSF).

Interview wise I had a large doc (7 pages) where I prepared an answer for all the common questions (e.g. 'tell me a bit about yourself', 'tell me a time you showed teamwork' etc). I also dragged my friends into mock interviewing me and then asking them for feedback (not on the content but how I came across - did I seem nervous etc?). On top of this, most firms will tell you the 2-3 people that is interviewing you beforehand. The night before the interview, I would also stalk these individuals, look at what their interest/work history is and ask questions about them at the end so that I seem interested in them/the firm.


How did you spend the summer holidays (end of third year/start of fourth year) before clerkship season?
To be honest, I was on holiday. Things didn't heat up until June. But once it heated up - it got very, very intense. Friendships ended, people cried, one person even contemplated dropping out of law...its no joke haha
 

wannaspoon

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What was the difficulty of Law like over your 4 years :)?
Starts out rather difficult... Gets easy after first semester when you actually figure out that you should work smart, not hard... Becomes a bunch of pub sessions when you are in your final year...
 

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