Legal Graduates Need to Up-Skill to Stay in the Game

Law graduates need to understand the realities of today’s legal job market to ensure their hard work pays off and they land a job in their chosen field.

"Given the oversupply of graduates, it is likely a lot of law graduates will end up in other industries or in-house, or government," observes Gadens Australian law firm Partner, John Dalzell. 

These days it is not uncommon for some legal firms to get 2,500 job applications for a few clerkships. Due to the influx of eager candidates, a few practices accept more graduates than there are jobs available at the end of the clerkship. So some will miss out no matter how well they perform.

It’s not all doom and gloom, there are many things graduates can do to enhance their chances of success and give them a leg up on the competition.

Eaton Capital Partners conducted a 2015 survey of numerous, Australian, legal managing partners to find out why some firms are reluctant to take on new graduates. It emerged that the main deterrent was client pressure to keep costs low. It takes time and money to train-up new employees after all…

“Junior lawyers are going to need to develop a different set of skills from the past to find a new way of providing a new service to a law firm,” one surveyed partner told Eaton Capital. “They have become too expensive in a cost sense and not valuable enough in a skill-set sense.”

Of course, universities and firms which offer legal graduate programs also have a responsibility to help train graduates and make them as job-ready as possible.

Marie Iskander, the Australian Law Students’ Association Vice President puts it succinctly, “the entire premise behind the graduate program is that the firms are training the graduates.” But, she concedes that, “certainly when interviewing for graduate opportunities, firms will be more inclined to take those students who have a wider set of skills.”

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