About this blog

The authors of this blog are lawyers or consultants employed by the RCT Group of companies, which includes staff who work mainly within our Stringer Clark offices.

From time to time, we may also invite guest bloggers to contribute, in which case this will be made clear. Authors who are part of the RCT Group are qualified to practice law in Victoria, Australia. Any advice applies to Victorian State law as at the date of first publication. The information is a general guide only and is not a substitute for legal advice applicable to a user's own circumstances.

Residents of other Australian States or Territories or countries are advised to seek legal advice from a lawyer practising in their own area, as laws may vary from region to region.

Recent Authors

Christian Farrelly

Christian Farrelly is a solicitor whose professional focus is superannuation. He also has an interest in commercial and criminal law and wills and probate.

Michael Burdess

Michael Burdess joined Stringer Clark in early 2006 and practices in the area of personal injury including WorkSafe and TAC.

Creon Coolahan

Creon Coolahan is a solicitor in our Warrnambool office and has extensive experience in a range of practice areas with a focus on injury law and employment issues.

Penny Savidis

Penny Savidis is an Partner of the firm and practices predominantly in the area of employment law.

Angela Sdrinis

Angela Sdrinis is a senior partner with Ryan Carlisle Thomas. She is an LIV Accredited Specialist in Personal Injuries with extensive experience in Comcare matters.

Published: 30 December 2010
Author: Peter Claven

How do I get my first job in the law? Starting a career in the legal profession.

Getting in to the legal profession hasn’t been easy in recent years. A common complaint is that it’s difficult for a graduate to obtain a legal traineeship (when I applied it was referred to as an articled clerkship) because of the increasing competition.

It wasn’t that long ago that I had to finally make a decision about the type of career I wanted in the law, and having decided on working in an established legal practice I had to decide how best to do this.

There are a few different pathways you can follow to obtain a traineeship, but here are some tips that I found useful in getting started in my career.

Obtaining a traineeship

Getting that all-important traineeship is the key to breaking into the practice of law. A traineeship is of course on the job training, which must be completed before being admitted to legal practice.

Before you turn your mind to drafting any letter of application and resume, think about what you might put in that application and resume that is not simply a statement of your academic record. It goes without saying that academic results are important, but, contrary to what many think, they’re not everything. Employers really want to know who you are.

The key questions to ask yourself are:

  • ‘What does this firm stand for?’
  • ‘What are its values?’

The students who really stand out are those who have tried to gain some experience of the law. A short clerkship with a legal firm, or non-paid work, such as volunteering with a community legal aid network not only gives you an insight into legal practice: it is also a clear demonstration of your enthusiasm and eagerness to work.

It also enables you to network and meet people who may be able to give you some important insights that may assist you in choosing a future career path.


You should also research firms thoroughly.

Make yourself aware of the areas of law practiced by different firms. Many of the larger firms that you look at might appear very similar. However, what generally distinguishes is the culture.

The key questions to ask yourself are: What does this firm stand for? What are its values? What would it be like to work there? How satisfying is the work? Is it the type of firm that will mentor me?

You might also consider the differences in working for a large firm or a smaller firm. City or country. Inhouse, government or private?

Getting meaningful answers also means talking to people.

Talk to lawyers and those who are working in, or have worked in and around, the legal profession. Talk to people at your university. Ask people about the firms you are interested in.

Determine what the current traineeship intake situation is with the firms that you may be interested in applying to and keep a record of important deadline dates.

So, you’re invited

If a firm offers you an interview, don’t knock it back. Even if a firm isn’t your first choice, grab the opportunity. You may change your mind later. If not, or if you are unsuccessful, don’t worry about it: you’ll likely perform better at the next interview.

One final word: Even if you fail to get a firm to take you on, there are still options open to you such as applying to the Leo Cussen Institute. Down the track, you can always re-apply to work at the firm you have your eye on. Persistence counts.

Peter Claven is a Personal Injury lawyer with Stringer Clark and Ryan Carlisle Thomas.


The Law Institute of Victoria: Career Centre
ALSA: New Standards for Graduate Employers and Lawyers


careers  employment  graduate  

Share this article:


Please enter a search term to begin your search.