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Graduate careers

Looking to start your career at a leading New Zealand law firm? Find out how you can join our team through our graduate recruitment programme.

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Key dates

Make sure you don't miss the deadline. Check out the key dates you need to get your application sorted.

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The summer clerk experience

What happens during your time as a summer clerk? Find out how our graduate recruitment programme works.

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What it's like working here

Want to know what it's really like working at our firm? Check out what some of our most recent recruits have to say.

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Application tips

Want to know how to make the most out of your application? Read our tips for success.

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Applications for our Auckland office summer clerk programme will open in March 2017. Applications for our Wellington office scholarship programme will open in July 2017.

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Each year, we hunt around to find the best university students to join us for summer clerkships. A summer clerkship is where you work for the firm for around three months from November to February each year, in the university summer holidays. You get a taste of what life at a large law firm is like, so you can try the law before you buy.

We run two different processes for finding our super stars:

  • our graduate recruitment campaign which kicks off in March of each year and is completed by the end of May (you can find out more about this here and
  • our scholarship campaign, which runs from June to September each year (you can find out more about this here).

If you're thinking about things you can do to make your application stand out, check out some tips we have come up with for you.

You'll no doubt want an idea of what a summer clerkship at Simpson Grierson looks like. It's packed full of training and on-the-job learning. Everyone's experiences are slightly different, but we've put together a summary of the summer clerkship programme that you should have a look over.

Of course, it's just as important that we impress you, because we don't want you to start working for us unless you're stoked on it. So take a moment to see what it's really like working here. We're just know you'll learn heaps, meet some great people and develop both as a person and professionally. In our opinion, it would be hard for your summer clerkship not to be one of the best summers of your life!

If you don't believe us yet, check out this video of some of our staff and the different experiences they've had so far.

And all the best!

Key dates

There are three ways you can secure a graduate role at Simpson Grierson:

  • Graduate recruitment - summer clerks (Auckland)
  • Scholarships and summer clerks (Wellington)
  • General recruitment

Graduate recruitment - summer clerks (Auckland)

Applying for a summer clerk position

Applications for summer clerk positions are open for two weeks in March of each year. We advertise at all of the universities and on Instagram (follow us at @simpsongrierson) and Facebook (like our page here), so it's hard to miss. We're looking for students who are in their penultimate year of studying at the time of applying - that is, students who are ready to summer clerk in the upcoming summer and finish university the following year.

Having said that, we love mature graduates too so if you are further on in your degree, don't count yourself out. Apply and we'll definitely consider it.

At the moment, our summer clerk positions are for the Auckland office only.

While the dates differ from year to year, here's a look at the 2016 key dates so you can get an idea of what the process looks like:

  • 3-4 March - Collect our Simpson Grierson brochure from your university
  • 17 March - Applications open for summer clerk roles
  • 12pm, 31 March - Applications close for summer clerk roles
  • 3-4 May - Summer clerk interviews
  • 4 May - Team building activity and post interview function
  • 19 May - Offers made
  • 30 May - Simpson Grierson post offer function
  • 1 June - Offer acceptance date

Scholarships and summer clerks (Wellington)

Applying for a scholarship

Applications for our Wellington-based scholarship programme open on 1 July each year. We'll advertise the scholarships on our Facebook page (you can like us here) and Instagram (follow us at @simpsongriersongrads).

Lucky scholarship winners are given:

  • $5,000 cash payment
  • Guarantee of a summer clerk position at our Wellington office
  • $1,000 cash clothing allowance
  • Access to our law library
  • A mentor to provide advice and guidance on studies and career, and
  • The opportunity to attend team building activities to meet your fellow scholars during the university year.

General recruitment

We love mature graduates too so if you are further on in your degree or are changing careers, don't count yourself out. Apply and we'll definitely consider it.

The summer clerk experience

We believe in your lifelong learning. We provide a wide range of professional development opportunities to help you to get to where you want to be. Your professional development starts in week one of your summer clerk programme.

The programme begins in mid-November of each year. After some initial team building, designed to help us get to know each other, you will spend the first few days undertaking technology and research skills training. After this training you will be very well equipped to deal with any task on the job. You'll then get stuck into the work!

We will rotate you through two teams over the summer, one before Christmas and one after. Usually, we're able to place you in the teams that you're interested in. Sometimes, you'll have questions to ask, and that's why we pair you up with a "buddy" in each team. This buddy will help you with day-to-day questions and concerns, even if you might think they're silly (believe us, no question is a silly question).

You will also be assigned a senior associate mentor in each of your rotations. This mentor is there to provide you with guidance and advice about law firm life, having worked in the environment for a while.

Within the first month of your first rotation you will also attend a business writing workshop. This workshop is invaluable and you will find it will stand you in good stead for the rest of your career.

During your second rotation you will be invited to a series of lunchtime seminars delivered by the partners. A partner from each work group will discuss their practice area, who their key clients are and the type of work they do on a day-to-day basis. These seminars will be very important to you when considering your preferences for your two rotation placements for your law graduate year.

Ongoing professional development

We really pride ourselves on providing training to our staff all the way from summer clerks to partners, to business services and legal administrators.

Please take a look at the professional development we offer to our permanent staff.

What it's like working here

We thought we'd get our senior partners and new solicitors to share some of their insights with you so you can get an idea on what to expect during your time here!

If you want to know more, here's some feedback from our most recent summer clerks. We can't wait to welcome them back next year.

"In Commercial Litigation I undertook research in a variety of areas including Defamation, Insurance Law, Intellectual Property, Contract and Broadcasting Standards. I got to experience the trials and tribulations of real cases and to explore the legal issues in depth, which was a really rewarding intellectual challenge - especially as I often went on to present and discuss this research to the Partners and others. Attending hearings at the District Court and High Court were also a live-action highlight."

Kari Schmidt - Auckland summer clerk - 2014/15

"In my summer at Simpson Grierson I was lucky enough to be part of two great teams, both incredibly friendly and interesting but each with new learning opportunities and different team dynamics so the experience I gained was absolutely invaluable."

Michaela Reid, Auckland summer clerk, 2014/15

"The people at SG are all incredibly friendly and always willing to help. The wide range of tasks given to me in my first and second rotations gave me a huge insight into the areas of law I want to specialise in."

Melody Zhou - Auckland summer clerk - 2014/15

Application tips

Your cover letter

We reckon that your cover letter is the most important part of your application. It is your best opportunity during the application process to ‘stand out’ from the crowd, give us an insight into your personal style and approach and explain who you are.

Key things to remember:

  • keep your cover letter brief and focused - one page maximum;
  • use paragraphs (and/or headings) to structure your letter; and
  • check your spelling and grammar at least twice.

More tips on composing your cover letter:

  • The basics: Address your letter to the HR Consultant. Confirm the date that you will complete your degree. If you are applying a year earlier or later for the summer clerkship, explain why this is the case (travel/overseas study plans).
  • Key skills and/or achievements: While you will be covering these items in your CV, you should highlight particular attributes, achievements or skills in your cover letter so that we are aware of what you are particularly proud of. If you think it will help us better understand what makes you ‘you’, include it!
  • Knowledge about Simpson Grierson: Indicate that you have undertaken some research on Simpson Grierson and why you think our firm might be the right firm for you.
  • Your career aspirations: We do not expect you to have a view on the specific practice areas you want to focus your career on at this early stage, but let us know if you have any initial thoughts or more definite views.

Your CV

In our view, the best CVs are brief and informative, so try to keep it to two or three pages.

Key things to remember

  • only include items if they will truly strengthen your application;
  • there are a number of ways to structure your CV. Using chronological order is probably most straightforward at this stage of your career; and
  • ensure that your CV gives us a more in-depth insight into your background, experience and personal approach/style.

Personal details

Don't waste paper with a cover sheet covering your personal details. Instead, list your name and contact details at the top of the first page, including your postal address, email address and a telephone contact number.


We'll ask for your academic transcript with the application form, so you don't need to list all your grades on your CV. It's up to you whether you want to particular grades, awards or scholarships to support your application, or note your GPA.

Employment history

You may choose to list your skills first, and then the various roles you've held (voluntary or paid employment) and key duties and responsibilities. Or you may go straight into outlining your work experience and listing the skills you gained in each role. Whichever approach you take, remember to keep your CV concise and focused and maintain a consistent style and format to ensure your CV is reader-friendly.

Job summary

In addition to listing each role, highlight the skills you developed in each role. For example, if you worked 30 hours per week while studying, you are likely to have developed strong time management and organisational skills which differentiate you from those who worked 10 hours per week.

It is also important to highlight any achievements or differences you made to your employer's business. In short, try to differentiate yourself from your peers!

References and referees

You need to choose your referees carefully - they should know you well and be able to provide some insight into your work ethic, personality and/or academic record. You must gain a potential referee's agreement before listing them.

While not compulsory, you should attach written references to your application where possible. Employers are far less likely than personal referees to provide written references but try to get one of each if possible.

Hobbies/interests/voluntary work

As a student, we know not everyone has a lot of work experience. We are therefore really interested to hear about clubs, community, church or sporting groups you've been involved in. These do make a difference. If you are a leader of a team, we'd love to know.

We love finding out what you like to do in your spare time! So please tell us. For example, you may be a member of a particular student body, a captain of a school or university team or you may have a real passion for surfing or writing. If it helps us better understand what makes you ‘you’, go on and include it!

Your interview

At Simpson Grierson the interview process is two-way. We want to get to know you better as well as give you the opportunity to find out about us. This video talks about the interview experience.