So, are you considering a move into legal?

Contrary to common opinion, you don’t always need law firm experience to work in the legal sector. It helps in terms of attaining multiple interviews, but law firms are increasingly seeing the value of hiring from industries beyond law. By doing so they can bring in fresh ideas and new talent into the sector at a time when law firms are striving to be more innovative. In addition, the earlier they can bring in great talent, the better – so it’s common to see firms looking to a broader candidate pool at BD Executive or Graduate Recruitment Assistant level.

However, there are challenges you will face when moving into the legal sector. Below, we highlight the most important areas of consideration if you want to make a success of your application to a law firm.


1.Your understanding of a stakeholder environment


This is key because no matter what support role you are considering in a law firm, you are moving into a partnership structure so you need to appreciate how this differs from companies and other industries. 

For marketing: you could be working with a diverse range of senior and intelligent people across a variety of sectors daily. Your role is fundamentally to advise and support the lawyers in strategically developing their market positioning, as well as developing and maintaining their clients. Law firms are partnerships, which means that the partners own the firm and, to an extent, pay for any marketing budget. So, it’s important to consider what return on investment (ROI) and value you can add to the firm. It’s wise to think of the lawyers as your clients – how are you going to BD and market them?

For HR:  HR is understood to be the process of ‘recruit, retain, develop’ – meaning that you could be involved in anything from recruiting the best talent and ensuring that your firm is doing what is needed to keep it, through to developing the skill sets needed to ensure best practice from employees. In HR you are providing support for the firm as a whole, from administrators and secretaries right up to partners. It is very likely that you will be having conversations with senior stakeholders on a day-to-day basis.


2.Your ability to work to certain processes


Partnerships are typically run by consensus – this means that the majority of partners have to agree any action/change. This can lend to a more collegiate atmosphere, but it can also mean that it takes longer to get things done. Consequently, law firms may look for evidence that you can work to processes or that you have developed a process/processes in your previous roles. Having good interpersonal skills, including the ability to work well with lots of different kinds of people, can be a real advantage. Wherever you can, demonstrate this capability.


3.Language used on your CV


When reviewing your CV for a move into a law firm, use the language of the job spec. As with most sectors, the legal sector uses its own terminology, so using it too will make it as easy as possible for those reviewing your CV to identify your suitability and all the transferrable experience/skills you have.

Think about incorporating ‘stakeholder management’, any client or sector focus for marketing, any systems you have used and highlighting your education/qualifications by featuring them towards the top of your CV, if applicable. Your recruiter should also be able to help with this –giving guidance or feedback on your CV as required.


4.Your ability to work with different sorts of, often very busy, people


Working in a law firm, whether in marketing and business development or in HR, will give you daily exposure and engagement with all variety of people, often from offices across the globe. Thus, law firms look for good interpersonal skills and abilities to work collegiately. If you don’t have a lot of work experience to refer to, try to reference examples of other projects or endeavours that will highlight your potential.


5.Finally, have a considered reason as to why you want to move into a law firm


Here, you can rely on your recruiter for insight into the legal sector, and then make up your mind about what it is that you find interesting. There are so many exciting elements to the legal sector – it’s agile, developing, stable, lucrative, challenging and provides plenty of opportunities for lifetime career development. Ensure you do your research and that on your CV, and when you go to an interview, you’ve got a great reason why you’re there.


Ultimately, the roles we recruit are designed to develop the effectiveness of these multi-million pound organisations. Always remembering the scope of opportunity and affect you can have, will go a long way to supporting your successful future in the legal profession.







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