All things point to the fact that the current legal recruitment market is absolute rubbish. The question of how to get a job as a lawyer is one which is plaguing many law students and trainees as the moment.
The bad news is that many law firms, despite having large numbers of law clerks, are only taking on limited numbers of those clerks as trainee solicitors or graduate lawyers. Legal recruitment is at a bit of a stand still.
As with all job applications the question you need to ask is how you can differentiate yourself from the plethora of other candidates that are applying for the same job.
With top tier law firms, the competition is fierce for graduate positions. And, to be honest, in the current legal recruitment market the competition is pretty fierce for all the other jobs.
As a law student, you can expect that your employer will want to know your marks at university, to at least satisfy themselves that you went to uni and didn’t fail everything. However, with 100 candidates with GPAs over 6, how can an employer distinguish between you and the others? Well, that can come down to a number of factors, none of which have anything to do with how smart you are.
Here’s a few thoughts as someone who has seen a lot of people apply for jobs:
- Be genuine. Employers, and especially lawyers, can spot a fake a mile away. If you don’t really want to be there, don’t really want that firm or that area of law – then you’re stuffed. Don’t think you can deceive you way into any sort of lasting legal job.
- Be personable. Despite the fact that you will be nervous at the job interview, don’t forget to be a human being – show some emotion, engage with the interviewers, and be pleasant. After all – if a 1 hour job interview leaves the other side needing a stiff drink, then why would they want to spend 10 or more hours a day with you?
- Show incentive – what, exactly, have you done with your life and your skills? Do you volunteer? Do you give time to the church, to a charity, to your friends, to hobbies? What is it that makes you a well rounded individual? It is your depth as a person that will allow you to engage with potential clients and develop relationship (see my post on marketing if you don’t think that is important)
- Shut up – almost all research shows that the more a person speaks, the better they will feel about the overall experience. Therefore, I encourage you not to waffle on like a 1 year old just learning to put words together. Show prudence with your speech – use your words correctly, speak well and confidently, articulate the point you want to get across, and then be quite. Filling up silences with speech is an opportunity for disaster unless you have something important to say.
- Know the firm – if you go into a firm interview without having an excellent understanding of what, exactly, that firm does then you aren’t very bright. They will expect it, and you should do it. Know the partners you’re likely to be working with (if relevant), know the areas the firm is in, and know a little of the history of that firm at least.
- Be passionate – if you have read my book, or have given proper thought to your career, then you must have identified WHY you want to be a lawyer. Don’t shy away from that – be passionate and prepared to tell the interviewers why you are there and why you want to be a lawyer. It will show that you are likely to have an underlying drive to perform your job diligently because you are motivated already. That said, don’t be so passionate that you end up coming across as creepy….
There are some tips, but every job interview for lawyers is a unique meeting of individuals. There is no science in legal recruitment – often it’s more about the vibe. Hopefully the above gives you some insight to creating the right vibe rather than the wrong one.
Be prepared, be genuine, and good luck!