How to land a graduate role

How to land a graduate role


Let’s start with some good news: the job market is growing for law grads. The Australian Financial Review’s bi-annual law partnership survey revealed the number of graduate roles being offered at top-tier firms in Australia increased by 8 percent in the year ending June 2015. However, with the number of law grads growing at a commensurate rate, and with many grads from previous years still hunting for a job, the road to legal employment can still be a treacherous one. To assist you in your quest, we’ve compiled a list of tips on how to land a role as a graduate lawyer.


This one might seem obvious, but solid grades will allow you to pass the first hurdle of the recruitment process. Paul Burgess, Director of Australian-based Burgess Paluch Legal Recruitment, states that many law firms process swathes of grad job applications, and will look to GPAs to separate the wheat from the chaff.

“If you are still studying, it's important (if inconvenient) to recognise that uni is important,” Burgess said.

“Try to avoid withdrawing from a subject and never fail a subject twice. If you are missing lectures and aren't committed, take a year off or more until you are committed. If you have a lot of fails in law, then you will have to wear this for the rest of your career.”

 To meet these goals, Burgess suggests choosing your subjects wisely.

“Make sure a lot of the subjects you do are in your area of interest, but feel free to throw in a few that can lighten your load.”

Graduate role
Graduate role
Graduate role

launch a start up

Good grades will often earn a grad a second glance from a law firm, but to distinguish themselves from the herd, many job-seekers are proving their mettle by launching their own ventures. Ashurst head of human resources Asia-Pacific Richard Knox told The Australian Financial Review that there exists a new breed of grad recruits that display an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset.

"The number of graduates is growing and the process is getting more competitive," Knox said.

"Some have been in business or are doing something on the side of a traditional career, like a website, an app or a start-up. That's also made us think about designing a flexible career path."

By running your own startup or business, you can show prospective employers that you are capable of working autonomously taking the initiative – traits that will become crucial as your career progresses.

Further Reading

 Lawsome Experience - Starting Your Own Law Firm in the 21st Century


It’s no secret that law firms prize grads who have already accrued relevant legal experience, but it pays to remember why. Sydney-based barrister, solicitor Sarah Lynch at Beyond Law wrote “By building undergraduate industry experience, either through volunteer work or extracurricular activities, you are demonstrating a willingness to invest in yourself. This not only helps to highlight your work ethic, dedication and commitment but also reduces the resources they need to allocate to train you. It could be the difference that nudges you ahead of another applicant.”

create a personal brand

Believe it or not, the amount of time you spend on social media might actually boost the chances of your grad job application. Anthony Walsh, Partner at mid-tier firm Gadens, said an aptitude for branding and networking across digital platforms are sought after skills amongst grads.

"A lot of it comes out of social media which is changing personal branding," Walsh said.

"People grow up on this now and it's about innovation and profiles and platforms generating more work."

Further Reading

Personal Branding Essentials for Lawyers