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LIV Legal Careers Fair Insights Series: Part one – it starts with you

LIV Legal Careers Fair Insights Series: Part one – it starts with you

By LIV Young Lawyers

Occupations Planning Students Young Persons 

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The LIV Young Lawyers is supporting our law student members to prepare for this year’s LIV Legal Careers Fair with a new insights series on themes relevant to starting a career in law. In this first instalment we interviewed former MinterEllison clerk and graduate recruitment expert Liz Atchison about her reflections on how law students should prepare when charting their career direction.

Approaching the annual July–October legal recruitment period many law students will be working on their applications for seasonal clerkships and traineeship roles.

Putting your best foot forward preparing an application with to obtain an interview is a primary objective, but there are other considerations. With Liz’s significant clerk and graduate experience, and having reviewed applications forms, interviewed, and mentored law students for legal roles, leveraging her insight to kick start this series is fitting.

The recruitment process starts with you

“Clerkships can be a fantastic process for students as they plan the next stage in their career. Determining the types of legal roles and practice areas available post degree is crucial. Deciding on areas of practice that are of interest, types of firm, as well as firm profile such as city-based, rural or regional, in-house, government, or ‘new law’ legal practices is the key focus of research during the clerkship and traineeship recruitment period” Liz says.

However, clerkships can also serve a wider purpose when starting out a legal career.

“The message I always give to law students is that the recruitment process actually starts with you,” Liz says.

“It’s important to put clerkship positions into context. You need to consider what resonates with you from a professional perspective and then target your applications to firms that will suit you best.”

Recruitment is a two-way process

One way of thinking about seasonal clerkships is to find the right ‘fit’ in terms of legal practice and to direct your energies and plan your career towards that goal. However, this can be difficult to achieve in practice with the very competitive clerkship and traineeship process. Even with the challenges students face during this time, it is important to outline what they are aiming for. Authenticity in applications is what sets applicants apart. You must demonstrate your keen interest in working for the firms or organisations you approach.

“It’s not just about law firms choosing you for what might be a great role – it’s also about what you want, where you want to start your career, and to find a firm that matches your needs”, Liz says.

 It can take time to find the best fit for you

“You may know when you are a law student that you want to be a disputes lawyer, however the firm that offers you a position wants you to do a full-year of rotations across practice groups. The decision to be made is whether you want to wait to get to where you want to be,” Liz explains. The simply answer should be yes, the career journey is not a straight line for many practitioners, you need to embrace the detours.

For those who don’t yet know where to direct their legal careers, it’s important to actively seek out information and knowledge that can help you narrow the field of opportunity, to better align with your career goals.

“When you meet a lawyer who practises in, say, tax or property, consider asking them ‘did you know you always wanted to practice in this area? If the answer is yes, the follow up question should be, ‘at what stage in your degree or career did you know that?’. Students may be surprised to find out some lawyers find their niche outside traditional recruitment pathways,” Liz says. Additionally, specialist lawyers may have had a different area of practice in mind when they started out.

One difficulty that law students face is how to best use the information they are receiving. There is endless advice to rely on, contributions from experienced practitioners in the form of “this is what I did” or “I think you should do this”. The challenge is to take on board all the great advice and suggestions and balance it with your personal objectives. What may have been right for someone, may not be right for you.

Liz acknowledges that there is a challenge in getting the balance right. She adds that “although it’s important to recognise the immediate need to get a career start, it is wise to have a longer-term strategy to get to where you want to be, and to put in place the support mechanisms that will help you achieve this. In this competitive recruitment period, there may be limited options available which do not quite match your immediate career goal. Put in place support networks such as development opportunities, mentors and widening your professional networks to take advantage of the career options available”.

Using the LIV Legal Careers Fair to your advantage

One of the great opportunities about participating and attending the LIV Legal Careers Fair is the diversity of potential employers that law students can engage with. Students should meet as many firms and representatives throughout the event. This is the best way to learn about the firms, the work they do and whether the practice areas match your career goals. They are a captive audience, all under one roof, use this opportunity to your advantage. After all, it starts with you.

To see which law firms and organisations are exhibiting at this year’s LIV Legal Careers Fair, head to our dedicated website for all the information you will need.

 

Liz Atchison will be one of our legal industry professionals taking part in mock interviews with students at the LIV Legal Careers Fair on 12 July 2018 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Registrations for these mock interview sessions are only available on the day. Please register for the LIV Legal Careers Fair today.

 

 


Disclaimer: Views expressed by commentators are not necessarily endorsed by the Law Institute of Victoria Ltd (LIV). No responsibility is accepted by the LIV for the accuracy of information contained in the comments and the LIV expressly disclaims any liability for, with respect to or arising from any such views.

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