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Changes to clerkship, graduate guidelines

Queensland Law Society has amended the QLS Seasonal Clerkship and Graduate Recruitment Guidelines, and the clerkship and graduate recruitment cycle.

Since March QLS has facilitated ongoing discussions between universities and firms offering clerkship and graduate programs on how students’ experience and the legal recruitment process in Queensland can be improved.

As a result, clerkship offer and acceptance dates were moved from 18-19 May to 9-10 July. This allowed firms time to re-evaluate intake procedures in light of COVID-19 restrictions and helped alleviate the stress of offers being made to students amidst changed university timetables and exams.

On 9 June, QLS hosted a Queensland Legal Recruitment forum to further discuss the future of legal recruitment in Queensland. Attendees included representatives from 20 firms which offer clerkship and/or graduate programs, universities, practical legal training (PLT) and legal education providers.

On 3 July, by majority consensus, QLS amended the QLS Seasonal Clerkship and Graduate Recruitment Guidelines and Clerkship and Graduate recruitment cycle.

The updated guidelines aim to provide students and firms with transparency and consistency through the legal recruitment process and allow students more time to research organisations and make an informed decision that is right for them when offers for graduate positions are made.

Key changes include:

  • the introduction of an Autumn clerkship for the 2020/2021 program
  • replacing the 2021 Spring clerkship with an Autumn clerkship in 2022 as an ongoing change
  • moving Queensland clerkship recruitment activity from March-May to July-August from 2021 onwards
  • moving priority graduate offer dates to July 2021 as an ongoing change, with graduate open market following immediately afterwards (in August/September).

The recruitment ‘cycle’ will effectively commence with clerkship recruitment in July/August, with programs operating across Summer One, Summer Two, Autumn and concluding in Winter.

Priority graduate decisions for commencement in the following year are then made in July/Aug with open market commencing immediately afterwards. This means that, regardless of an organisation’s clerkship program offerings, all organisations will have to wait until July/August to make their priority offers with open market opening shortly thereafter.

This allows students more time to research and consider where they intend to pursue their legal career and reduces the risk of deferrals following associateship offerings.

QLS extends its thanks to the stakeholders involved in these discussions for their tireless efforts and considered feedback.

You can find more information on the QLS Clerkship and Graduate Guidelines and participating firms here.

Sheetal Deo is the Relationship Manager – Future Lawyers, Future Leaders

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