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Handbook

Our guides for employers and candidates on how to navigate the entry-level job market.

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Handbook
Contents

Legal Roles

How to hire a graduate for a Legal role

Candidate profile:

A quick thinking, motivated and sharp individual with good commercial awareness who is a great communicator. They should be a quick learner, discreet and know how to remain calm under pressure. An ideal candidate will be a strong-minded and analytical individual with great attention to detail. A person with a competitive drive and excellent time management skills who is comfortable taking responsibility for their own work will thrive in a legal environment.

A candidate looking to pursue their law career at a smaller company will either have studied Law at university or done an internship at a top law firm but decided they don’t want to go down the traditional route and apply for a training contract.

Typically the candidate will have done a Humanities or Law degree with a strong result achieving as a minimum a 2:1 or alternatively, may have completed a law conversion course (GDL – graduate diploma in law).

Top skills:

  1. Written & verbal communication: talking to clients clearly and calmly, even about sensitive situations, is a core skill of anyone in the legal profession.
  2. Attention to detail: small mistakes can have big impacts, and clients are relying on their legal team to get things right!
  3. Time management: in a role like this there are lots of projects on the go at any one time and deadlines are strict.
  4. Research & analytical: a successful legal employee is used to handling documents and finding information.
  5. Problem solving: complex cases and tricky clients require a quick thinker.

Non-office experience:

  • Any experience which has required the candidate to hone their communication skills e.g. working with or learning a foreign language, writing for a university newspaper, volunteer work, being a member of a sports team or a debating society.
  • If the candidate balanced extra-curricular activities with a strong academic record at university this indicates that they have good time management skills.

Office experience:

  • Any experience in the legal industry would certainly be beneficial.
  • Experience where the candidate has had to use their research or analytical skills is also a plus.
  • Any experience such as a customer service or sales support roles that has required the candidate to work to deadlines, and to manage and deal with clients in a professional capacity.

Green flag

  • Someone who has taken the time to research your company and is aware of current current business developments in your industry.
  • Someone who is confident and has good communication and persuasive skills.

Red flag

  • Spelling and grammar mistakes in their application – this shows a lack of attention to detail.
  • Someone who has difficulty being flexible, both with time and approaches to tasks.
  • Someone who has little experience of meeting and working on multiple deadlines, and has little experience to demonstrate that they have good time management skills.

At interview:

  • Ask them about a time that they had to build a rapport with a difficult person or a time they had to deal with a personality conflict with a colleague or classmate – this will give a good insight into their people skills.
  • You could set them a short task to carry out during the interview to see how well they do under time pressure – this could be something simple like proofreading a document or anything similar that relates to the kind of work they will be doing.
  • It may be beneficial to see how a prospective candidate responds to new material to get a grasp on how they think and the way in which they approach tasks. This also tests their ability to think on their feet- something pretty crucial to a legal role.

Employee’s Expectations

The role available and type of company (i.e. what type of Law your company focuses upon) will all affect an employee’s expectations of the role. In entry-level roles or trainee positions, firms seems to have competitive rates despite there being a low minimum wage of £12,000 for a barrister role and no minimum salary for trainee solicitors. The starting salaries can be in the range £25,000-£40,000. A candidate with the requisite qualifications may expect a slightly larger salary. Candidates may also expect a large variety of opportunity to give them a wide range of experience. Be upfront with the candidate about your expectations for them, hours they may have to work, and what their work will entail.

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