As you begin your job hunt, two of the most important tools you have are your cover letter and resume. In an age of increasingly Internet-based job searches, these two documents are your only opportunity to showcase your skills and set yourself apart from other applicants. Related: 5 Tips To Make Your Law Firm Application Stand Out We know there are plenty of tips on the Internet for how to structure your resume or make your resume visually appealing, but there isn’t a lot of information specifically about legal resumes for new attorneys to refer to. We hope that our tips help you understand what a prospective employer is looking for and how to avoid some of the pitfalls we see on a regular basis.
During 2013, there has been an extraordinary amount of lawyers moving from one reputable law firm to another. If this trend continues in 2014 and you want to join in, you might want to look into the seven skills law firms look for in recruits. Here they are...
1. Drive And EnduranceWorking as a lawyer means you’ll have to regularly put in long hours to achieve your goals. It’s just part of the job to have to sacrifice a little bit of yourself. Lawyers who have a lot of energy and stamina tend to be better at their jobs since they don’t mind walking that extra mile with their clients to get the results they want.
2. Good CommunicationGood communication skills, both written and oral, are important qualities to have for any solicitor. During your application and interview processes you have the perfect opportunity to showcase these talents. Remember that good communicators know when to listen and when to speak, so make sure you show your interviewer that you can do both.
3. Attention To DetailNaturally speaking, lawyers should have great attention to detail when working with colleagues and clients. They should be able to pick up on small things in both written documents and when people are verbally communicating. Allowing a small error to slip through can change the meaning of a contract, causing a lot of problems. Recruiters often test the spelling, punctuation, and grammar of potential candidates to see if they meet this requirement. If an application is full of small mistakes, the candidate will most likely be turned down immediately.
4. TeamworkTeamwork is a crucial part of being a successful lawyer. It’s hard to show someone in an interview that you are a good team-player, so prepare some examples from previous situations where you contributed to or lead a team successfully. You can also tell the interviewer how you feel you’ll be able to contribute in a future team situation. If you’re a recent graduate, you can use examples such as being captain of a sports team or class leader.
5. Commercial AwarenessLaw firms are looking for candidates who have an honest interest in how businesses work and how it will affect their clients. They want someone who has a sense of the “big picture” and who keeps up to date on what’s going on around them. A good lawyer should have the ability to be a comprehensive business adviser. Follow the news and stories in the business world to prepare yourself for questions concerning this aspect.
6. An Entrepreneurial InstinctBusiness models are changing and developing more towards improving the entrepreneurial side of law firms. Always be inquisitive and on the look-out for new opportunities and chances to create business.
7. Well-Rounded PersonPeople who have a good balance in life tend to cope better with things like stress in the business world. Although academics are very important to a lawyer, try to take part in some kind of extra-curricular activity, because as they say, a healthy body fosters a healthy mind.
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What’s the best advice that you can keep in mind in order to succeed in your legal career? It has nothing to do with how to give a confident handshake, what type of suit to wear, what school you should attend, or how you should prepare for a case – it’s more of an all-encompassing philosophy that will affect your success in many ways. The simplest thing that will help you for the rest of your legal career is to keep your mind open and never stop learning. You might think that after you complete Law School, you have learned everything you need to know and you are ready to practice law. You might be ready to start practicing law, but really your knowledge has only begun. Throughout your law career, it is important to take every opportunity to expand and deepen your knowledge in order to stay sharp and continue to practice law to a high standard. This is a crucial attitude to have for success in any profession, but especially so in something as dynamic, challenging and rapidly changing as the practice of law.
Legal Professionals Never Stop LearningOnce you graduate beyond undergraduate school, you will begin to realize that the achieving of good grades has little to do with the ability to achieve success in the real world. This is why it is important for future lawyers to develop an attitude of learning throughout their entire careers. Every mentor, adviser, professor and client that you interact with will teach you something worthwhile – so pay attention! You will never be able to know what needs your client will have and every case will be different. Each new case presents an opportunity to challenge yourself and learn something you didn’t know before. This makes law very challenging, but also very exciting.
Leave Your Ego BehindPart of being able to adapt an attitude of life-long learning within your career means that you need to admit that you don’t know everything. The law is essentially a service industry and you are a public servant, so you need to be humble, connected and involved in your community – always ready to accept criticism, take on feedback and be responsible for what you do.
There Are Many Ways To LearnThe type of learning that you need to dedicate yourself to in order to become a good lawyer doesn’t just take place in the classroom. A law degree can give you the fundamentals that you need, but be sure to also look outside of the academic setting to learn more. Build up your own library of law books in your home or E-books on your computer, so that you can reference them at your leisure and continue to build your knowledge. For example, having your own copy of new legal books means that you can dip into it whenever you need to reference something related to the case you are working on at the time. Also, consider subscribing to magazines, newspapers and bulletins related to law – there are many available on all topics from employment law to business law to family law. Receiving current news from trusted legal organizations will keep you up to date on all of the current issues and changes – which will give you the advantage in your law career. A little bit of life experience is also a huge learning opportunity that can help you to develop the maturity and perspective that makes a truly great lawyer. Consider taking time off to work or travel abroad, such as serving in the military, volunteering or taking a sabbatical in another country. The more you understand about life, the world and culture – the wiser you will be as a lawyer. Keep your mind open and never stop learning – and you will be on the path to a long, rewarding, and successful law career. Enjoy this article? You've got time for another! Check out these related articles:
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