Commercial law firms are very clear on what they look for in their potential recruits, expecting applicants to have a consistent academic record and experience.
But academic success is only half the story. Beyond your grades on paper, they also want to see a host of other qualities that set you apart. We've pulled together a list of the top 10 to help you on your way.
1. Appropriate knowledge and motivation
Why do you want to pursue a career in commercial law? Have you actually researched the sector in sufficient depth and are you able to give reasons why you think this is the career route for you? Need to know more about areas such as dispute resolution? Click here.
2. High ethical standards and an understanding of the role of law
You'll have been taught about this in your law degree, but you should do further reading around the topic to show you have a full understanding. If you are not studying law then you'll have to research this yourself. Here's a good place to start.
3. Self confidence and good interpersonal skills
You may have this in spades but it is a good idea to have some extra-curricular activities on your CV which can prove this before the firm has had a chance to meet you. Examples include leadership position in a society, debating/mooting or theatre productions.
4. A variety of sustained interests which reveal a high level of achievement
Academics and an interest in the law are important but to get noticed you'll need to show a well-rounded interest in activities outside of this. Firms are looking to hire the best, most interesting and engaged individuals.
5. Initiative and responsibility
Compile a range of examples that can demonstrate both these skills. It is good to have a variety of examples - from university, work and social - that you can use in interviews and application processes.
6. Commercial awareness
All law firms are businesses and their work revolves around supporting other businesses in solving commercial issues. This is a non-negotiable and, unfortunately, an area where graduates tend to let themselves down. It is vital that you stay on top of current affairs and can demonstrate opinions on stories of interest to you. It is advisable to set up Google alerts for the firms you are considering so that you are notified as soon as a new story/deal is made public.
7. Good negotiation and project management skills
A degree can equip you with this - as most involve group work at some point - but it is always a good idea to try and gain experience of this outside of your degree.
8. Attention to detail
This is expected of all trainee solicitors. Top tip - make sure there are no errors in any of your application documents! Even the slightest typo can work against you.
9. Knowledge of the firm and justification of your suitability for it
Why are you applying to one firm over another? It is important to avoid template applications as firms pride themselves on what differentiates them from others. This could be their specialities, culture, global reach, CSR policies. It is important you do your research, figure out which would be best for you and, most importantly, have valid reasons for your choice.
10. Language skills are a plus
While not essential, this will help your application stand out. So find ways during your time at university to maintain any that you acquired at school or through travelling.
Read more here:
- Why you should consider a career in law
- A quick glance at a life in commercial law
- Which area of legal practice is right for you
- Law firms looking for graduates with your degree
Want to get a headstart with your applications? Have a look at our C.V. template here.