Tip: Balance your academic studies with extra-curricular activities from other areas of your life, to illustrate you are a well-rounded person with lots to offer. This will almost certainly impress recruiters. One of the most important skills youll need to be a successful solicitor is the ability to be a useful member of a team. When applying, ensure that you highlight examples that show youre are a good team player and leader during university and your past work experiences. At law firms you will need to be a good team player because teamwork is a very important to get-on in your legal career. Teamwork consists of working with others to form a consensus and reach the best possible outcome for all parties, whether in transactions, mediations or arbitrations. Negotiations are based around working with teams which often not only includes working with your colleagues in your department, but those from other groups to form multi-disciplinary teams, which also has input by the client and other professionals.
The ability to work collaboratively and effectively with others is of fundamental importance to working successfully at a law firm. Any lawyer must be able to communicate effectively with their client. Your ability to relate and interact with others in such a way as to engender confidence, form lasting relationships, and clearly explain complex situations in a clear manner is integral to the role of a solicitor. In addition, having good people skills will help you to interact with a wide variety of characters at your firm and fit into the culture of the firm. Client care is fundamental and possessing excellent communication skills will help you to communicate ideas and advice to your clients.
Commitment and dedication to a legal career With intense competition for places, it is vital students can demonstrate a long-term commitment to a career in law, which can be shown through work experience. It is important that you acquire work experience in both a legal and commercial environment to evidence your interest, enthusiasm and motivation for pursuing a legal career. A lawyer is expected to have a thorough, accurate and meticulous approach to their work. Committing any glaring grammatical or punctuation mistakes on your application form is the easiest way to fast track your application to the rejection pile.
Firms like applicants who display initiative and a get up and go. They are also impressed by candidates who value their skills and strengths. This can be demonstrated by the way in which you apply to the firm. For example, aspiring lawyers rarely seem to ask law firms for unpaid work experience; shadowing a solicitor is a really good way of gaining an insight into legal practice, and follows the proviso that, once you impress the solicitor and other professionals at the firm they will offer you a job. *Image is vital Project a professional and business like personal brand. Your attitude and source of motivation for becoming a lawyer is really important; before a firm commits to employing you, they will want to be sure that their clients will see you in a positive way. First impressions always count for so much. Even when completing your application forms, so take your time over your applications and carefully consider the image you are conveying.
Many aspiring lawyers are extremely ambitious, determined and driven. In such a competitive business, you should have a clear and realistic plan of where you imagine your career heading in the next five to ten years, and whether it is your aspiration to become a partner at a law firm, or a senior counsel in-house at a global blue-chip company. Demonstrate a real interest for the firm you are applying to, and the type of work they do. Your passion will enable you to talk about the firm and the reasons for your application in a vibrant way. You will naturally come across as highly-motivated applicant that will fit in and do well at the firm. Always be yourself and do not try to be someone that you think firms are looking for. Firms dont want order-following clones on the career treadmill! They want to see a variety of individual personalities with sparky characters. At interviews, always give answers that are personal and unique to you, rather than the answer you think interviewers want to hear.
Allow your personality to shine through at interview. Firms want individuals who are not afraid to be themselves, express their opinions and who know what they want out of their legal career. Throughout your legal career you will have to socialise constantly and your ability to talk to people is important to your employability prospects. During the course of your training contract, you may end up working into the early hours of the morning on a large transaction. Any associate will appreciate working with someone whose personality helps to keep spirits high and boost the morale of the team. Your interests and hobbies can be an incredible selling point, as this is your opportunity to showcase your personality. How else will you show that you have developed into a well-rounded individual?
Law firms aim to recruit a variety of personalities and the way you spend your free-time adds value to your credentials to show how you manage your time, your leadership qualities and that you are an interesting and fun person to work with. Use whatever you say to reinforce to the recruiter that you have all the qualities they are looking for. can be the decisive factor at interviews. Lots of savvy candidates will use this kind of experience to integrate their commercial awareness and transferable skills into their CV/applications. Eye-catching experience or interests can make a significant difference to being selected for interview. If you do not yet have any work experience it is necessary that you do your best to find some. If you are interested in a particular area, there is no better way of expressing your interest than having gained solid experience in this area of the law.
Gaining an insight into the realities of working life also shows you appreciate how academia translates into the day-to-day practicalities of working as a lawyer; because there is a huge difference between studying and practicing law as the two require completely different sets of skills. Any vacation placements will be an advantage, and if marketed effectively could give you an edge over other applicants with similar academic grades. Top Tip: Devising a skills table is a particularly useful technique to highlight your skills against a firms criteria, which will help you prepare your application forms and interviews.
List a number of skills (such as legal experience, problem solving, commercial awareness etc) and then think of examples of how you have used/developed these skills. Try to find examples from each of your education, work experience and extra-curricular activities. Aim to use as many different examples as you can in order to reflect your varied experience and well-rounded personality. The aim is to show that you have a wide range of experiences. By doing this you will be able to answer most of the skills-based questions on an application form, as well as those that interviewers throw at you. Below is an example of a skills table with examples of different experiences:
Experiences / Background demonstrating skills in action
*Young Enterprise Scheme
*Legal and commercial work experience.
*Committee organisation of the annual Ball.
*Gap year reconstruction project
*Teaching English in Japan
*Volunteer work and pro bono experience.