How to Stand Out as an Applicant for Clerkships & Graduate Positions

by Mohammad Amir

Landing a clerkship or graduate position in the legal field is a competitive process. Firms are looking for candidates with well-rounded achievements. This article will cover a range of important aspects of the application process. Improving these areas will enable you to maximise your chances of landing a position.

University Grades

Clerkship and graduate applications often require submitting your most recent academic transcript. This will be the most important aspect of your application for many firms. As a result, prioritising your academic results is a crucial element. You should put in effort from your first year, find studying approaches that work for you, and reach out to the support services available through the university if you are struggling.

Work Experience

Another important aspect of landing a clerkship or graduate position is your work experience. Having legal work experience as a student is great for you to get a feel for how the law works in a practical setting while also showing recruiters that you are comfortable managing multiple responsibilities. Casual paralegal roles are regularly advertised at law firms, in-house teams, and government agencies.


Extracurricular activities are valuable additions to any resume as they show that a candidate is well-rounded and passionate about a particular area. Executive positions in student societies, involvement in social sports, or volunteer experience are good examples of extracurricular activities you can add to a resume. Although it would be great if these are related to your field of study, it is optional.

Written Application

Preparing a good written application is crucial to your chances of success. As the first step of the process, you must put in a high level of effort to leave a good impression. You will generally need to upload a resume, cover letter, and often answer additional application questions. This is where you can speak about all the experience and skills you have gained from your degree, work experience and extracurriculars. Be sure to research the firm you are applying to and think about specific aspects of their culture that attract you to them. Avoid writing generic cover letters, as recruiters can easily identify when applicants have not conducted their research.

Interview Skills

Many candidates consider the interview the most daunting aspect of the application process. Often, multiple rounds of interviews are conducted to narrow down the best applicants. Each firm carries out interviews differently. However, it is best to be prepared for general questions like ‘tell me about yourself’ or ‘why are you interested in our firm’ along with behavioural questions that require you to have anecdotes of your own experiences. Remember to research your interviewing associates or partners and prepare tailored questions to ask them after your interview. Some firms conduct very natural and conversational interviews, so be prepared to alter your approach depending on the situation. Having someone ask you common interview questions can be a great way to prepare for an interview and practice delivering your answers.