Performing on the job

01 Jun 2023
Nick Cooper
Deputy Chief Executive Partner
I joined the firm as a Senior Lawyer in January 2004, made Partner in July 2010 and was appointed Partner in Charge of the Perth office from July 2014 -2020. I now lead the national commercial litigation practice group and enjoy getting to interact with each clerk as they join the firm and watch their career journey begin. Away from work, I lead an active life involving myself in plenty of sport/outdoor adventures and value spending time with my family. This includes coaching my boys' cricket teams, fishing in the family boat and going on skiing holidays. I encourage you to make the most of your clerkship opportunities!

So you're about to commence your clerkship, and you want to make the most out of the opportunity? First of all, well done! Here are my top tips to demonstrate your strengths, perform on the job and maximise your clerkship experience!

1) Have a positive attitude

  • While it may seem obvious, you'd be surprised to hear that there are stories of clerks turning down work because they weren't interested! This is not the impression you want to leave.
  • Clerks who approach each task with enthusiasm and a desire to learn are often more successful because they use the opportunity to build their own skillset and leave a positive impression on the team.

2) Say yes, even if it's outside your comfort zone!

  • The clerkship program is designed to give you a real insight into the day to day workings of a commercial law firm. And we recognise that sometimes this means working on tasks when it may not be so straightforward, but that's okay!
  • Ask plenty of questions to gain clarity and reach out for support from your team members. Clerks who demonstrate they're willing to tackle a challenge and give it their best effort even when they're unsure themselves are highly regarded by the team.

3) Meet people outside your clerkship group to help enrich your experience

  • If you're lucky enough to get a rotation based program in your clerkship, you'll be fortunate enough to meet a range of different people who work at the firm. However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't strive to meet others to help gain a holistic view of the firm - after all, you may rotate through different practice groups during your graduate program!
  • Make sure to meet individuals from all different levels in the firm too, as each will have a unique perspective they can share with you.
  • Remember though, ensure you maintain an appropriate balance between completing high quality work products and networking. Using social gatherings such as firm drinks, community connect initiatives such as volunteering or training sessions during your clerkship to meet people is a great way to connect and build your networks without sacrificing time away from your work.

4) Don't be afraid to ask for feedback and continuously build on feedback received

  • As you begin to complete work tasks, you will likely find yourself receiving feedback on the work you complete, whether it's mark-ups to a memo or verbal feedback from your colleagues.
  • Apply that feedback to improve on the next work task you receive as this demonstrates your ability to learn on the job and improve. Remember, we don't expect you'll get it right every single time!
  • If you don't receive any feedback, don't be afraid to ask for it. Being proactive in this space will show that you are interested in your development and how you can improve your technical ability.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.