Just Give me the Job: A Guide to Developing Professional Skills and Applying for Legal Work

Note: This post is largely based on the ‘Careers Assistance for MLS JD Students: Professional Portfolio Guide 2013’

Whether it’s an internship at a public interest organisation or a clerkship at a commercial firm, making inroads into the legal profession can be a difficult process. Most publicly advertised positions (especially clerkships) receive tens, sometimes hundreds, of applications and the interview processes can be gruelling. For this reason, an appreciation of the professional skills that employers look for is an important asset, and might just make the difference when you’re going for your dream position.

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Surviving Your First SWOTVAC At MLS

I know what you’re thinking: “is it seriously week 11 already? Didn’t I have my first PPL lecture just last week? What do you mean I have three 70% exams where basically every topic is assessable? Where am I and how did I get here?!”

Ok calm down. Take a deep breath. I can wait a minute while you compose yourself. No seriously its fine, take as long as you need. I’ve got nothing but time.

You’re good? Alright, where were we? Oh yeah, SWOTVAC is coming up! That’s right, you’re first semester at MLS is almost at end, and that came mean only one thing: Exams. Continue reading

A Guide to Practice Problems

Note: This post in primarily directed towards hypotheticals problems, as opposed to essay questions. A guide to writing exam essays can be accessed here; a general guide to managing law exams can be accessed here.

After six years of high school, (at least) three years of tertiary education and the all important LSAT(s), chances are you’re familiar with the importance of doing practice problems. It should come as no surprise than that one of the keys to success at law school is doing… you guessed it, practice problems. Continue reading

Self Assessment – Evaluate Your Research Essay Before Submission

The LASC has developed a rubric (a document that articulates the expectations for an assignment by listing the criteria, or what counts, and describing levels of quality from excellent to poor) for legal research papers that may help you to assess your own writing before you submit.

This rubric was not developed specifically for the dispute resolution paper, but does provide guidance on the criteria for a research essay.

You can download the rubric here: Research Essay Rubric

This document should be used in conjunction with the Legal Writing Checklist, and any criteria that appears on your assessment task. Continue reading

A Timeline for your Syndicate Assessment

*The following materials have been developed for the Principles of Public Law, Constitutional Law and Criminal Law and Procedure syndicate tasks in the Melbourne Juris Doctor. They have been in part adapted from materials used in the Legal Academic Skills Centre (LASC) syndicate task presentation.

For general information about assignment timelines, see the Assignment Timelines Post here.


Setting the Scene

All assignments in law school take time. But syndicate tasks can be particularly protracted and frustrating if you don’t have some sort of timeline in place to keep your group on task. There are a number of variables that may pose a challenge, like: Continue reading

Research Plan Checklist

Your first research assessment – whether its an essay, a memorandum or some other task –  can be hard. Not only are you trying conform to new writing conventions unique to law, but you’re also expected to use and navigate legal databases that you may not be familiar with.

Thankfully however, you don’t need to tackle this task completely by yourself. The MLS library not only runs numerous research workshops, but they have also developed a nifty checklist to help guide you through the different steps of planning, writing, editing and ultimately submitting your first paper. Continue reading

Getting Motivated for Group Work

It can be tough getting motivated for group work. You might find that your study and assessment habits don’t gel with those of your group members; that other group members don’t pull their weight like you do; or that negotiating with other members of your group (especially strangers) is difficult. You might also think (correctly) that collaborating for a single mark is antithetical to the highly competitive law school environment.

These feelings are common, and it can be easy to become frustrated with your group or the law school for putting you through the process. There are many reasons these assessments are made compulsory in your first year, so important to understand why your group work matters so you can stay motivated and make the most out of the experience. Continue reading