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What personality traits do law firms look for when hiring and how can I demonstrate them?

Find out what traits hiring managers are looking for, and how to demonstrate them in your CV and interview in this article...

It’s no secret that some personalities are better suited to certain careers. If you don’t believe us, have a go at one of the many personality job tests out there! Now, this might not be backed up by many scientific experiments, but there are certain traits law firms are looking for you to demonstrate in your CV and the interview process.

Read on to find out what ten of these are…

1. Time Management

The life of a lawyer is a fast-paced one with important deadlines that can’t be changed and lots of juggling. So, time management skills are critical to getting the job done in the given time restraints.

How can you demonstrate time management skills?

Taking part in a range of extra-curricular activities as well as learning or work are great ways to develop your ability to manage your time. Is there a situation where you have had two deadlines at once, and how did you get everything done in time?

2. Commercial Awareness

Commercial awareness is super important and will definitely tick some of the hiring managers’ boxes. What does commercial awareness really mean? Well, it’s about having an interest in current business affairs, current interests in the legal sector and especially in the area you want to specialise in or the area the firm you’re applying to specialises in.  

You should have a genuine interest in what is going on in the world and be able to demonstrate this to the hiring manager. To find out what is important to the firm you’re interviewing at, have a look at their expertise, clients, any big cases they have recently won or been involved with, office locations for local stories and cases and their competitors. This research will help to you to understand the firm and narrow down your searches for relevant material.

How can you demonstrate this commercial awareness? 

You must be able to demonstrate that you are up to date with what is currently happening in the world, the legal sector, and the specialisms of the firm you’re applying to. What interesting news stories have you seen lately? What cases are you following? Are there any journals and articles you have read lately such as The Financial Times or The Economist? These are great sources of legal information that show you have commercial awareness.

3. Communication

Strong written and verbal communication is a must. The majority of your role will be performing one of these mediums, so it needs to be something you excel at and something you enjoy. You need to be able to convey information in a clear and accessible way, be personable to gain your clients’ trust, be able to write cohesively to give information to your clients in documents and email, and the list goes on and on… If this sounds like your worst nightmare, then certain careers in law won’t be for you!

How can you demonstrate good communication skills?

Pro bono schemes offer law students an opportunity to hone their communication skills by gaining direct legal work experience, so this might be something to investigate. Otherwise, if you’ve worked in a customer service role – such as retail or hospitality, we’re sure there’s experience you can draw on here.

4. Resilience

Resilience and self-confidence are helpful skills to possess to thrive in a legal career. A job in the legal sector is demanding, and things aren’t always going to go your way, so being able to deal with the bad as well as the good and take on constructive criticism is critical.

As mentioned before, burnout is something a lot of solicitors become accustomed to due to the nature of the role and believing in your own abilities will help to stop the spiralling.

How can you demonstrate resilience?

Have you had interviews and been unsuccessful? Did you receive some negative feedback but turned this into a positive? Did you have to retake a module to fully understand the subject? Were there modules you didn’t do very well in, but you’ve taken the time to brush up on your knowledge? There are lots of ways to demonstrate resilience.

5. Organisation

As with most things, organisation is key to success. As a lawyer, you’ll need to be able to organise points of law, draft legal documents, and contracts, manage case files, meet clients, attend networking events, court cases, social events and MORE. Therefore, being organised is key to being successful and avoiding burnout.

How can you demonstrate organisational skills?

This should be one of the easiest traits to demonstrate. Have you organised an event? Have you got a system in place to decide what is a priority? 

6. Retrieval Skills

You’ll be absorbing a lot of information and will need to draw upon things you’ve read quickly and seamlessly. So, retrieval skills to retrieve information is a key thing to demonstrate.

How can you demonstrate retrieval skills?

Were there times during your studies when you had to pull out dates, figures, and references during an exam? What was your method for remembering information?

7. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is an absolute MUST when it comes to working in law. One comma or full stop in the wrong place, and you could completely change the meaning of a contract. So, accuracy is key and something you must demonstrate.

How can you demonstrate attention to detail? 

Think about your time as an undergraduate - writing essays completing coursework and giving presentations – what was your proof-reading system and how did you ensure it was grammatically correct and spelt right throughout? Additionally, ensure your CV, cover letter and any subsequent correspondence is spelt correctly throughout.

8. Initiative

You need to be able to show initiative to be successful as a lawyer. Although teamwork is a big part, as we discuss below, there will be times when you’ll have to work independently and make a decision based on the facts you’ve got in front of you without the support of other lawyers or higher-ups. 

How can you demonstrate taking initiative? 

Think about a time when you’ve decided upon a decision based on the facts placed in front of you without the support of others due to time constraints or being unable to get hold of the person you were looking for. How did you overcome this, what was the outcome and what have you learnt from this situation?

9. Problem Solving

Being creative when problem-solving is key to achieving the best outcome for your client. Although lots of things are set in stone, there are still ways out of the-box thinking can help you strive for better results for your client as not every outcome is immediately obvious. Therefore, creative problem solving is a great skill to show off when interviewing for jobs as a lawyer.

How can you demonstrate problem-solving? 

Is there a time when an assignment or piece of work seemed impossible, but after some trial and error, you overcame the situation? Did you have to overcome something to achieve a win as a sports team or when working in a customer service role?

10. Teamwork

Yep, this one you’ll see everywhere. The ability to work in a team is key for successful lawyers. No cases are an independent job; you’ll rely on paralegals, other lawyers for their opinions and expertise, partners, and clerks for to get the best outcome for your client. That means you need to be able to work as a team and know when to ask for help.

As well as this, it’s important that you can liaise with clients and build a strong relationship. This is essential, as it means your clients are more likely to trust in you and the firm to get the best outcome for them, which leads to repeat business. 

How can you demonstrate teamwork?

Demonstrating your ability to work as a team player is important to securing a training contract, vacation scheme and role as a lawyer. It doesn’t necessarily need to be from a working environment, although if you can that is great. It could be as part of the law society at university and working with other people on your course to achieve the right outcome. Or, as part of a sports team where teamwork helped the outcome of the game.

Ready to apply to your next legal role?

If you can demonstrate these skills, and like the prospect of working in an environment where these are used day-to-day, then a job in a law firm could be for you. Head to our jobs page to see what vacancies are currently live.

If you have any top tips for demonstrating any of the above skills, let us know in the comments below.