Life at Allens
10 things I wish I knew before my clerkship
As a law student, you probably have lots of questions about clerkship programs. Clerkships offer invaluable first-hand experience and often act as a stepping stone to bigger things, with many people going on to graduate positions afterwards. We recently spoke with our 2021 graduates who offered up some great advice on things they wish they knew before beginning their clerkship.
Everyone wants you to succeed.
You aren't expected to know it all, and mistakes are a given and an important part of the learning process. We're here to support and guide you through your clerkship. Our firm is filled with excitement each time a new clerk cohort starts with us, so make the most of the enthusiasm! Be eager to learn, maintain a positive attitude and ask for feedback on your work. Our clerks are allocated a network of mentors who provide work, oversee your development, and support you during your time at the firm and beyond.
Partners are just regular people.
As a law student, you may feel intimidated by senior lawyers but just remember they were once in your shoes, remember what it's like, and are genuinely interested in you, your experiences as a student and relating to you person to person. Approach them just like you would any other person you encounter in a professional context.
Ask a lot of questions!
We don't expect you to know everything, but we do want to see that you are interested in learning. If you aren't sure about something, don't be afraid to ask a colleague. If you get lost halfway through a task, go back to the person who gave you instructions – they will appreciate you checking in. It can be easy to waste time trying to figure something out yourself, when all it takes is a few minutes to ask a question and move a problem along.
Accept the coffee catch up.
Even if you've already had multiple coffees! (Get a tea or a decaf instead). Sometimes people overthink tasks and convince themselves they're too busy for a quick coffee, but in reality, you'll almost always have time. After all, getting to know your team is one of the most important parts of a clerkship, and doing so over a coffee is a great opportunity to ask questions.
Be open minded.
And enjoy the experience. Your clerkship is an opportunity to try a range of different work types, so keep an open mind and expose yourself to as much variety as possible. It’s also a great opportunity to meet lawyers from all kinds of backgrounds, so don’t be afraid to reach out. There's a lot of knowledge to be gained if you're open to receiving it.
It's our culture and the way we work together that sets us apart. As a firm, we have a strong commitment to driving change and shaping the future – in our clients' businesses and industries, in our communities, and in our own firm. There are endless opportunities for you to contribute and make a difference, so don’t be afraid to follow your passions, put up your hand and take advantage of opportunities to get involved in the life of the firm.
Communication is key.
And it's important to speak up if you're unsure about something or need help – all you need to do is ask! Our people are more than willing to assist as they’ve all been there before. It's important to remember you're part of our firm when you start as a clerk – we see you as our next graduates and lawyers, so don't be nervous to say hello and chat to your peers.
Recovery time is essential.
Ensure you're getting enough rest throughout your clerkship program. Navigating nerves and excitement in a new environment, combined with new learnings will mean you'll need down time and eight hours of sleep each night.
Write a list of everything you want to achieve.
It's important for your development that you are exposed to a number of pieces of work varying in nature and complexity throughout your clerkship. We encourage you to proactively ask for work and seek out feedback to ensure you're getting the most out of your experience.
And the type of person you want to work with. We value authenticity and we want to work with clerks and graduates who value this too. Diverse perspectives help solve complex problems, strengthen teams and enrich client relationships. The more you enjoy working with a diverse range of people, the greater your success will be. It's easy to be intimated by others who are naturally more extroverted, but if you're an introvert there is no need to pretend you are not. At the end of the day, being yourself will allow you to do your best work and forge the most authentic relationships. On the other hand, if you're an extrovert, embrace it and don't be afraid to let your voice and personality be heard!
So there you have it – 10 things you now know before you begin your clerkship. We hope this has given you an insight into the clerkship program here at Allens.