After those countless hours of self-reflection, writing cover letters, researching firms, and sitting through interviews – it can be heart-breaking when the rejection emails start rolling in, especially if they come from your ideal firms. We understand – we’ve been through this same grueling process. Rejection is exhausting and deflating.
In the face of this, it’s important to remind yourself that your clerkship outcome is not a representation of your worth. As mentioned in our article, the legal market is disproportionately saturated, and you not securing a clerkship is merely a natural by-product of that.
There are several ways of looking at and working with rejection constructively:
1️⃣ Rejection will build your resilience. You have gone through a period of self-reflection and you now better understand your professional strengths, weaknesses, and have improved your written and verbal skills. We firmly believe resilience is more valuable than offer outcomes, and so rejection emails, if and when they come, is formative of this value.
2️⃣ Ask for individualised constructive feedback from the firm, if possible. Whether you see this feedback as a form of closure or a way to improve on future job applications, it always helps to understand how you can become better. Take this as an opportunity to reflect on your own experiences – are you missing some necessary skills that other candidates may have had?
3️⃣ Do not take this rejection personally! There are so many reasons why a firm has declined your application; perhaps they have decided to reduce their clerkship intake post-COVID, or maybe it was simply an exceedingly competitive applicant pool this year. You have not done anything ‘wrong’ in this application process, the firms’ decisions were made based on their individual sets of criteria over which you had no control. Additionally, don't compare your offer outcomes to those of others. It is not only unhelpful for yourself, but also ungracious to your colleagues who have similarly worked hard through the process.
4️⃣ Maintain connection with your interviewer(s). Despite being rejected from the firm, it's important to remain polite and civil. Thank your interviewers for their rime and keep in contact with them via LinkedIn. We still remain connected to interviewers and HR reps from firms that did not extend clerkship offers to us. The Victorian legal industry is incredibly small, and lateral movements are common, so chances are you might rub shoulders with these individuals one day. Either way, it's important for character-building and professionalism not to take out our angst on individuals involved in the process, even when things don't go our way.