What Makes a Clerk Stand Out for Being Hired as a Grad

Posted by Lucas Leung

Have you been offered a clerkship at a law firm but have no idea how you'll be assessed during your time there?

Being offered a role as a clerk is a huge achievement in itself, but going above and beyond during your clerkship might lead to securing a graduate position too! This article will cover some basic principles you should follow as a law clerk as well as some extra tips on how you can approach your experience. We asked students who have completed clerkships, as well as recruiters at law firms, to get the best insights into how to stand out.

Be confident about the work you produce

The work you produce is one of the most crucial but valuable assets at your disposal during your clerkship. Despite being thrown into new territory and having to absorb lots of information in a short amount of time, giving tasks your best shot and being confident in your ability to complete a wide variety of will make your experience more enjoyable and rewarding. Although you will likely receive feedback on how you can improve on the work you produce, this should not discourage you. If you demonstrate eagerness to listen and apply the feedback, your supervisor will become confident in your ability to perform too!

Present yourself well and take care with the little things

In some cases, the little things make a huge difference for managers or recruiters when it comes to deciding who to select for a graduate role. Since you only have a limited time to prove yourself, there isn't much time to fix a sub-optimal first impression.

Most of these things are applicable in most workplaces but here are some important behaviours to avoid:

  • Consistently arriving late to work
  • Taking your role for granted and demonstrating an excessively laid-back attitude
  • Being too informal in the way you converse with colleagues or the way you dress for work

People notice these kinds of behaviours or attitudes because it will translate into the work you do in the future. It's all about gaining the trust of your colleaguees and demonstrating a great work ethic. Your seniors or supervisors are looking for people they can rely on and if you can't prove that to them during your clerkship, your likelihood of receiving an offer might not be so hot.

Be proactive and open-minded

If you find that you have some free time in your schedule, reach out to different people within the firm and see if there any tasks you can assist with. Taking the extra initiative to accelerate your learning will go a long way in impressing your supervisors and improving your overall clerkship experience. 

Another situation where you can be proactive is when you are having trouble with a challenging task. Proactively seeking the right support in a timely manner will show that you not only care about the quality of your work but are committed to understanding how to approach a task. Remember, it is okay to ask lots of questions – they are probably expecting it.

Treat your fellow clerks like your allies, not your enemies

One thing that will almost always stand out when you look back on your time as a clerk are the friendships you develop among your fellow clerks. Having a cooperative mindset will not only help you stand out to your supervisors and recruiters, but will also improve your experience as a whole. Increasing your network and making valuable connections is one of the most important tasks that you have as a clerk!


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