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Clerkship success via “radical” methods

Clerkship success via “radical” methods

A UNIQUE approach to hiring has seen Gadens Lawyers achieve a 100 per cent acceptance rate with the firm’s Sydney summer clerkship program for the third year in a row. The firm’s new managing…

A UNIQUE approach to hiring has seen Gadens Lawyers achieve a 100 per cent acceptance rate with the firm’s Sydney summer clerkship program for the third year in a row. The firm’s new managing partner has been the key driver of Gadens’ offbeat hiring methodology.

Law students vying for summer clerk positions at Sydney law firms are required to take part in an industry program involving a careers fair and centralised processing of the students’ clerkship applications.

But Gadens has developed its own recruitment method, requiring students to apply to the firm directly, rather than just ticking a box. Using the careers fair as its flagship event for the process, Gadens this year received hundreds of applications.

Managing partner Michael Bradley briefed Lawyers Weekly on the methodology in March 2004.

“Stallholders will talk to the students provided they stay out of the way of the Playstation screen,” Bradley joked. “We promise not to detract from anyone’s enjoyment of the day by making presentations.”

Those hoping to gather some free ‘stuff’ would likely be disappointed, Bradley said. “We will only hand out show bags if we succeed in stealing them from the neighbouring stalls, but we are offering a special this year: each hour we will conduct a competition in our stall (details to be announced), the winner of which will receive a guaranteed summer clerk interview at Gadens, regardless of how atrocious their marks are.”

The firm’s hiring method was “less scattergun” than those methods used by some other firms, said Gadens’ Human Resources Director Jane Skinner. “The rough industry standard for clerkship acceptance rates is around 50 per cent.

“Firms will typically offer, say, 20 people jobs for 10 places, expecting roughly half of them to accept, because they target multiple firms. The people we pick tell us they specifically want to work with Gadens,” Skinner said.

But to be successful, students will have to stand out, Bradley said, adding that a Gadens lawyer must have certain qualities.

Firstly, he or she must have a law degree, something that is “easily overlooked, but actually quite important”. As well, “the ability to distinguish legal practice from real life and to conduct both simultaneously” is important. Finally, the desire to make a difference is an important asset for all Gadens lawyers, Bradley said.

Gadens selects people who are bright and whose world view is very similar to the firm’s. “We go on a gut feeling as well as academic record,” he said.

“While their academic record needs to be sound, we are attracted to people who have experience beyond typical student life … We look for people who will be able to operate in the commercial world.”

Gadens recently appointed, amongst its summer clerks, a unionist, a dancer, an extensive traveller, a director in a family business and an amateur graphic designer.

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