What it does: High-powered commercial law
Staff stats: 174 partners and over 1300 employees
The good bits: Smart and supportive co-workers
The not so good bits: Long hours, lack of autonomy
The Clayton Utz story
Clayton Utz was founded in Sydney in 1833 by a convict’s son called George Nichols. The legal practice Nichols started is now one of the nation’s Big Six, a full-service commercial law firm with offices in all Australia’s major cities. In 2013 (the latest figures available) the firm had revenues of almost half a billion dollars. The firm has a client list that includes many of Australia’s largest corporations and several multinationals, as well as plenty of state and federal government departments and agencies. Clayton Utz has been involved in countless billion-dollar deals. Some recent examples include helping set up the $37 billion NBN, MYOB’s $2.1 billion ASX listing and IPO, and Macquarie Bank’s $8.2 billion acquisition of the Esanda dealer finance portfolio from ANZ. The firm’s distinguished alumni include former PM John Howard, the current Foreign Minister and Minister for Social Services, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney and esteemed wine critic James Halliday.
Clayton Utz is keen on “diversity of thought, background, experience, personal circumstances, education, religion, sexuality, gender, age, ethnicity and ability/disability” which it sees as “key to attracting, developing and retaining the very best people".
It has a Gender Strategy and Action Plan, an internal women’s network called Momentum, sets ambitious gender targets and has been recognised as a Workplace Gender Equality Agency Employer of Choice for Gender Equality.
The firm is an active member of (LGBTI employer support program) Pride in Diversity. It has a LGBTI program that seeks to “maximise opportunities for our people to achieve business success and career satisfaction regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.” Clayton Utz has a Gold Employer status for LGBTI Workplace Inclusion.
The firm is seeking to become more culturally diverse and in 2017 committed to the Managing Partners Cultural Diversity Charter. It is also an active member of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association. Likewise, the firm is aiming to become more inclusive of people with disabilities. It has become a member of the Australian Network on Disability and is developing a Workplace Adjustment Policy to cater for staff with special needs. Clayton Utz takes flexible work practices so seriously it has appointed a National Flexibility Manager to ensure staff can “balance their unique and changing needs during different life and career stages.
Clayton Utz's people come from a wide range of backgrounds and have different skills, interests, personalities and capabilities. Clayton Utz is committed to an inclusive culture in which all people are recognised for their unique contributions and are encouraged and supported to achieve their full potential.
Diversity at Clayton Utz includes diversity of thought, background, experience, personal circumstances, education, religion, sexuality, gender, age, ethnicity and ability/disability. That diversity helps to generate new ideas, creates more effective teams and relationships, and is a key enabler to attract, develop and retain the very best people. Diversity and inclusion is integral to Clayton Utz's culture which is founded on the values of trust, respect and co-operation.
Clayton Utz is a proud member of the Diversity Council of Australia and have been a sponsor of its Gender Reporting Network for several years.
Clayton Utz focuses its corporate social responsibility efforts on addressing disadvantage and supporting access to justice. Its Community Connect program has seen staff and partners volunteer their time and skill set to many community organisations. The Clayton Utz Foundation, funded by the firm’s Workplace Giving Program, has distributed $8.3 million to over 200 charities since 2003. The firm’s Reconciliation Action Plan encourages using Indigenous-owned businesses as suppliers, as well as requiring the funding of scholarships for Indigenous law students and the provision of a certain amount of pro bono advice to Indigenous individuals and organisations. Clayton Utz is a founding member of the Australian Legal Sector Alliance. (It encourages law firms to adopt sustainable practices and minimise their environmental impact.) The firm is an industry leader in pro bono work and has twice made the list of the world’s 10 leading pro bono practices.
The recruitment process
Clayton Utz’s clerkship programs are the “future pipeline for the Graduate Program”. They can be done in the Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney offices and are usually run during the summer break. Internships include an orientation, hands-on experience and training, as well as the opportunity to attend networking and social events.
To be in the running for a clerkship you’ll need to be a strong academic performer as well as being commercially savvy, flexible, personable and practical. You’ll also have to seem like someone who can “embody the firm’s behavioural values of trust, respect and co-operation and [its] foundation value of the highest ethical standards in all that [you] do”. While clerkships are meant for those in their second-last year of study, those in their final year will be considered in some circumstances. The process starts by completing an online application. If you make the cut, you’ll proceed to the interview stage. If that goes well, you will receive an offer.
After completing a clerkship you’ll be well positioned to be accepted into the firm’s graduate program. It kicks off with a 2.5-week national orientation program. After this you will be placed in a practice group and take part in “a range of workshops, online learning, coaching and mentoring conversations”. You’ll do six-month stints in three different practice areas.
Academic brilliance certainly counts, but graduates who thrive at Clayton Utz have something extra - a natural passion for connecting with people and a strong sense of self. Clayton Utz looks for people who are personable, practical, commercially-savvy, as well as flexible. Clayton Utz lawyers undertake complex and innovative legal work, so it's important that clerks and graduates are motivated individuals who aren't afraid of a challenge. They’re looking for people they enjoy working alongside. “Clerks and graduates need to embody the firm's behavioural values of trust, respect and co-operation and Clayton Utz's foundation value of highest ethical standards in all that they do."
As a grad, your pay will be around the industry average and you may get bonuses (but don’t bank on it). You’ll have the chance to exponentially increase your salary as you climb through the ranks. You can expect plenty of quality food and beverages in the office, as well as lunches and dinners at fancy restaurants. There are taxi vouchers if you work late.
On top of the standard four weeks’ annual leave, you can purchase another one or two weeks’ additional leave. When the time comes to have children or look after an aged parent, you’ll also be able to access extra leave. The firm has partnered with “some of the world’s leading brands” to arrange discounts, such as a 10 per cent price reduction in Fitness First gym memberships.
Other benefits include the adoption of the AIA Vitality program which is their new employee benefit scheme, offering incentives and rewards (through a points based system) to encourage and motivate their employees to embrace a healthier lifestyle.
The firm provides “personal and professional skills development, coaching and mentoring programs, leadership development, career planning and CLE/CPD programs. There is also the potential for an overseas secondment that could see you working for a “leading international firm” in London, New York, Tokyo or Hong Kong.
The vibe of the place
As would be expected with a law firm, there’s an obvious hierarchy but partners are approachable and you should make lots of friends with more junior members of staff. There are regular extra-curricular events and the office atmosphere is relatively relaxed and social.
Overall satisfaction rating among graduate employees: 4.4 stars
From the Employer:
Staying true to your direction is what defines Clayton Utz. At Clayton Utz, we've built a team of down-to-earth, collaborative lawyers who know that at the heart of exceptional client service is knowing what your client needs. We offer the sharpest legal minds. The clearest advice that cuts through the complexity, so our clients can concentrate on the things that really matter. And an unshakeable sense of what’s possible.
Our Clerkship programs
If you’re a law student in your penultimate year, our Clerkship Programs will expose you to the fast pace of a full-service commercial law firm and show you the law in action. You'll be working under the guidance of some of the sharpest legal minds in Australia, on challenging, complex and high-profile transactions and matters. You'll be mentored by partners and lawyers who are leaders in their fields, in a firm where individuality is embraced and innovation actively encouraged.
Our Clerkship Programs are our future pipeline for the Graduate Program. They are designed to give you a feel for what it’s like to be a Graduate and they are a great place to start your career.
Our Graduate program
It's not just about wearing a suit
No matter how good your law degree, there's always a gap between theory and practice, and finishing university can be daunting. How do you make the jump to working in a commercial law firm?
That's where we come in.
Once you've completed your studies, our national Graduate Program gives you the perfect foundation for your legal career. Our 2.5 week orientation program is designed to ensure that you'll hit the ground running. It consists of PLT+, local training and a national orientation week in Sydney.
Our rotation program means you'll discover different areas and find the right fit. From day one you'll be working on complex and sophisticated legal issues, and with our innovative approach to learning & development, you'll get the support you need to become the best you can be.
With our Graduate Program you'll get…
- 3 rotations of six months in our national practice groups;
- mentoring from some of the best lawyers in the country;
- a buddy who'll give you the inside information;
- meaningful performance feedback so you know you're on the right track;
- continuing legal education programs and professional development support so you can become the lawyer you want to be;
- the chance to participate in our Community Connect and Pro Bono programs and really give back; and
- social and sporting activities, because we know it's not all work and no play.
What we look for?
The most important ingredient in our success is our people.
We're looking for clerks who are personable, practical, commercially-savvy, as well as flexible. Our lawyers undertake complex and innovative legal work, so it’s important that they are intelligent and motivated individuals who aren’t afraid of a challenge. We'll look at whether they've had a broad range of experiences, such as part-time employment, voluntary work, legal experience (voluntary or otherwise), or sporting, cultural or community pursuits. They need to show they have behavioural skills such as time management, initiative, goal-setting and achievement, teamwork, an understanding of client service and self-motivation.
Most importantly, we are looking for clerks who we'd enjoy working alongside. We want clerks who are going to be a good cultural fit and who embody the firm's values, every day, in all that they do.
Clayton Utz offers a vibrant and supportive work environment. We recognise the need for our people to stay true to themselves by maintaining balance in their lives. That's why we have a range of flexible work options and health and wellbeing initiatives, as well as social and sporting activities and community volunteering opportunities.
Pro bono and social responsibility
Clayton Utz is a leader of Australian law firms in pro bono practice and social responsibility programs. Since we established our Pro Bono practice in 1997, our lawyers have completed over half a million hours of pro bono legal work. The Clayton Utz Foundation provides financial support to charities where our partners and employees are already giving pro bono or volunteering support through a Clayton Utz program or in their own time. Since its establishment, the Foundation has made over $7.3 million in grants."