Five ways to impress a law firm

Business services professionals in law firms have come a long way in a short time. Teams have grown rapidly across marketing & business development (BD), finance, HR and IT – with generalists joined by a rising number of specialists who can meet the more complex business demands of larger firms. Entirely new functions have grown too, bringing in new skills in areas such as project and process management, pricing and client management.

Firms have traditionally shown a preference for candidates who already have experience from within the legal sector. But with growing teams and a rising need for new skills, they realise that this isn’t enough. They now need the right commercial insights and skills from beyond law too – from broader professional services firms or beyond.

Not only that, but firms that are bringing in new skills may be more willing to do it on flexible terms. Fixed term contracts (FTCs) can be a great way for firms to ‘pilot’ new roles before making them permanent – also giving candidates a way to try out a firm, and a new position, without having to make a long-term commitment. Part-time or other flexible roles may also offer firms a more cost-effective way of bringing in new talent in areas like project management, where teams are still in the process of getting established.

So the opportunities to join law on your terms are growing. But how do you make sure that you get the best opportunity in the right firm for you? Here are our tips:

  1. Know the industry. If you’re interesting in joining the legal sector for the first time, do your homework. Read the trade press (register with The Lawyer and you can access many articles for free), and get up to date on the latest research/surveys – for instance, PWC’s Law Firm Survey 2016. Understand the pressures facing law and how business professionals add value.
  2. Use social media to develop a personal brand. Post updates on LinkedIn, use Twitter to share interesting articles and ideas. Look engaged but stay professional. Remember this could be an important way of impressing a firm before you’ve even crossed their threshold.
  3. Know how you want to work and prepare your business case. Some firms will specify the details of flexible roles, others will say ‘open to flexibility’. If you want to work flexibly, be able to show how you can achieve the job description in the days/hours that are advertised or that you propose.
  4. Law firms are full of highly intelligent, busy people who won’t be overly impressed by waffle. In the interview, be knowledgeable about the firm, and thoughtful and succinct in your answers. If you don’t understand a question, don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer to repeat or clarify it.
  5. Follow up after interviews. If you don’t get the job you want, try to find out why. Some firms will offer more constructive feedback than others, but that nugget of information might be just what you need for success in your next interview.

The legal sector is an exciting place for business services professionals just now. It is at a stage of development in which business experts can, and do, make a big impact and many have been instrumental in achieving lasting change. Ways of working are fast changing too – doors are not only opening to business services professionals offering new skills, but to them working differently and more flexibly too.

Prepare in the right way and you could be just a short step away from impressing your next law firm employer.

Agile, Remote working, Time management, Flexible working

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