Get Noticed – developing skills and qualities that legal recruiters seek

The following are essential for success in the legal profession:

  1. A good academic record  – All firms will seek a consistently high level of achievement but some* will specify that you must have particular grades at both  A-level (or equivalent) and degree.  Many firms seek a 2:1 in your degree and AAB / ABB at A-level or the equivalent.  Why?  Because they can!  It’s a competitive market and this is an easy way for them to filter out applications.  However, the good news is that many firms are moving away from the grade requirement in recognition that this isn’t always the best indicator of success.   A level grades (or their equivalent) in particular are featuring less although there are still quite few firms who don’t request a 2.2 or, more commonly, a 2.1 degree.
    NB- all firms will consider genuine mitigation if you have lower grades than expected.
  2. Extra curricular activities:  –
    1. Legal work experience:  whilst all firms will value this most do recognise that it is not always easy to obtain.   If you can’t get legal work experience think about other ways to discover the legal profession – attend open days / watch a case in court / meet lawyers in another way (networking events / on-line forums / mentoring etc).   Volunteer in the clinic.
    2. Other work experience –  paid or voluntary jobs whether part time or full time will all count.  Think about the relevant skills that you have from this and the fact that someone else has valued you and your skills enough to employ you or, in the case of volunteering, take you onto the team.   Never leave this off your CV.  You will demonstrate commitment and responsibility as a minimum.   Also, if you have worked in a family business this IS work that you should record.  In all likelihood you will have worked harder for less pay and taken on more responsibility than if you worked for someone else.  Don’t think this is irrelevant – it is very relevant.
    3. Taking on responsibilities such as: Rep / Campus Ambassador / Captain of a sports team / committee member for a student society / Head Girl/Boy and so on.
    4. having interests – the legal profession relies and relationships to win new business.   A recruiter wants to know that you will be able to talk to clients (and not just about law) and also that you won’t be the office bore.   This doesn’t mean  you have to be outgoing or ‘bubbly’ – just have some interests.

Skills and qualities which they will seek include:

  • Adaptability / Flexibility  – can you deal with new ideas and challenges?
  • Analysis –  can you think clearly through a problem?
  • Commercial awareness – see here.
  • Communication – Can you explain complex issues clearly and simply?  Can you fluently articulate your thoughts
  • Creativity – can you see alternative ways to approach and solve problems?
  • Enthusiasm, Drive and Determination – do you fit a lot into your life?
  • Organisation and Time management – you’ll need to be able to keep up with developments in the law, your clients’ businesses and the cases they are working on. Can you multi-task?
  • Resilience – this is a very ‘hot’ skill that law firms (and many others are now testing.  See this article by Targetjobs for help.
  • Teamwork – you need to enjoy working with others both colleagues and clients.

Transferable Skills – see this article on LawCareers.Net


Here’s some ideas (don’t try and do them all – you do want to sleep sometime!)

  1. Join a society

Societies that are relevant for law students:

  • Any of the law societies – Kent Student Law Society / Kent Temple Law Society / Canadian Law Society / Critical Law Society / Women in Law Society / BAME Law Society /
  • Debating Society – especially good for developing your public speaking skills
  • Enactus Kent extend an invitation to law students to join them. This student led, non-profit organisation aims to use entrepreneurial action to empower people, to improve their livelihoods in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way. Gain practical skills through Events & Fundraising, Commercial Ventures, meet business advisors and take part in networking with the corporate world.  See their website for additional information.
  • Kent Invest – this is a good society for anyone interested in commercial or corporate law as knowledge of the financial markets will be very useful.

2. Extra curricular skills development

The Law School has so many opportunities open to you:

3. Get some Work Experience – legal / non-legal / paid / volunteering