Advice for Job Seeking Law Students

You’re studying law so it’s no wonder you want to work at a law firm! You apply and apply… but you get rejection after rejection… so what gives?

Advice for Job Seeking Law Students

It’s a common dilemma that many law student’s face during their studies. But what no one ever tells you is the reason as to why you keep getting rejected for roles. For example, you may see a ‘Junior Legal Assistant’ role, and you think to yourself, I can definitely do that! So why were you not even considered for the position?

Law Firms are looking for ‘career’ Paralegal’s/Assistant

This is often the answer to that question. Whilst you certainly would be capable of doing the role and to a high standard, law firms are looking for candidates that want to build a career as a Paralegal/Legal Assistant, not a candidate who is wanting to do the work for a couple of years and then move on to practice as a Solicitor, which is the case for many to most students.  Another common perception from a lot of firms is that law students and graduates are most likely trying to ‘get their foot in the door’ and expect to practise with the firm once they are qualified.  Unfortunately, the reality of this happening in the Melbourne legal market is highly unlikely. It is expected that you, along with all other law graduates will go through the process of applying for graduate lawyer opportunities during the graduate intake periods and we all know the fierce competition that comes with applying for graduate roles. It is a hard concept to grasp, as many students are left wondering how they will actually ever get their foot in the door in such a competitive industry, where there is a somewhat oversupply of graduates.

Our advice

The advice that we give to law students/graduates who are applying to us is this:

The majority of law firms we work with across top, mid and boutique practices, specifically request that we do not present candidates for their permanent legal support roles who are currently studying law or have recently graduated from their law degree. Occasionally, if the position is a contract role (with no possibility of permanency at the end of the contract), our clients will consider candidates who are studying or have graduated from law. This of course, is on the proviso that the candidate has the right level of legal support experience in the relevant area of law behind them.

The best thing that you, as a law student or graduate, can do is to approach the law firms directly via their career’s sites. We also recommend that if you are applying to a smaller sized firm with no careers page on the website, it may be beneficial to contact the firm directly and request the name of the HR Manager/Talent Acquisition Consultant, which in turn will allow you to address your cover letter to them directly when forwarding on your resume.

Also important to note is the fact that your chances of securing a graduate role will be much higher if you are able to undertake a clerkship. Many firms will only consider candidates for graduate positions if they undertook a clerkship at that firm. Whilst we appreciate that securing a clerkship can be just as competitive and difficult as a graduate role, it will certainly assist you in your future endeavours.

Have you also considered doing some pro bono work? This will allow you to gain some practical work experience that cannot be learnt in the classroom. You will be exposed to real life clients and be given the chance to analyse and assist in advising on real life legal issues. It is also a great opportunity to network and it will look great on your resume.

We hope that these tips can be of some assistance to you and best of luck in your job search.

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