Professional recruitment is a tough thing to do, but the stakes are very high when it comes to hiring legal professionals. The work of any reputable law firm is only really as good as their last case, so hiring the wrong type of people can have severe consequences.
One of the best ways to avoid these difficult situations is to use a specialist legal recruitment agency to identify the best candidates. But how do they do that? Besides law degrees and previous experience, what kind of traits do recruiters look for in law firm candidates?
1. Genuine Passion for the Law and Legal Matters
It’s sad but true that some people are really only getting themselves into the legal profession for the promise of financial gain, connections, and perhaps as a pathway to positions of power and influence further down the line. While none of those ambitions are inherently bad, they are rather hollow when not supported by a foundation built on a genuine passion for the law.
When lawyers are passionate about what they do, they can achieve great things. They fight the good fight, and secure justice where there might otherwise be none. They also ensure that the rule of law becomes a fact of life rather than just a loft ideal.
2. Compassion and Empathy
Lawyers frequently come across as cold, unfeeling, even somewhat mechanical in the way they speak, think, and act. If you’re interviewing candidates for associate positions in a law firm, then these are things that you really want to avoid. The issue with some lawyers is that they don’t have at least one foot firmly planted in the real world. It’s those who do that make better lawyers because they can apply a sense of compassion and empathy to their work.
It’s true that lawyers do need to be practical, and put the needs of their clients first. But in order to do that, they have to first fully understand their client’s positions, and that still takes a strong degree of empathy.
Lawyers do love to talk, just as they love to write letters and legal documents, but it’s listening that is really the most important weapon in their arsenal. In order to know exactly what to say, and what to write in those letters, lawyers have to be good listeners. They have to absorb huge amounts of information in a short time, and can’t let key details slip through the cracks. Pay close attention to how law firm candidates are listening to you as you talk to them.
4. Communicating Complex Matters Simply
Another great way to separate the great law candidates from the average or mediocre candidates is to ask them to explain something very complex in a simple way. The idea is for them to imagine explaining a difficult legal concept to someone with no background in the law and no legal training. If they can do it, then they have genuinely strong communication skills, another critical string to the lawyer’s bow.
Once again, it’s easy to think of lawyers as being wooden, drab, and colourless, but they actually do need to have a great deal of flair and creativity about them to be strong candidates that can serve a law firm. The most complex and tricky legal situations require creative solutions from those with a penchant for problem-solving.
Finally, it’s a good idea to try and get some gauge on how patient your prospective associates can be. The legal profession and the world in which it operates can be slow moving and frustrating for clients. Good lawyers need to be able to keep a level head, stay patient, and pass those calm and measured feelings on to clients.