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Top 5 Characteristics Law Firms Look For When Hiring

You’ve know you’ve got the skills but you’re looking for that extra edge to cut through the crowd and make your CV stand out. We understand that the legal industry is an extremely competitive industry for job seekers, so we’ve put together the following guide:

Top 5 characteristics law firms look for when hiring

Goals

Working as a lawyer means you will have to regularly put in long hours to achieve your goals, sacrifice is just part of the job. Law firms want to see that you have the right goal driven attitude required to succeed in such a demanding industry. Candidates who have goals and are driven are seen as better applicants as they won’t mind walking that extra mile for their clients to get the results they want.

Experience

The legal industry is a complicated industry, so prior experience and understanding of legal practice is a necessity for most legal firms when hiring candidates. Legal firms are having to sift through record numbers of applicants, so employers are looking for a CV that stands out from the rest. Experience demonstrates commitment to the career path, plus a complete understanding of the skills and demands the job entails. Having prior experience so you can hit the ground running will be hugely advantageous when applying for a legal role.

Communication

Strong oral and written communication skills are a necessity for most employers looking to hire an employee, regardless of the industry. It is however, especially important for a legal candidate to have highly developed communication skills. Lawyers must be orally articulate, have good written communication skills and also be good listeners. Law firms will be looking for this essential skill in their candidates, so ensuring your communication skills are on point will really help you through the recruitment process.

Achievements

If you were an employer sifting through hundreds of applications for an advertised role, what would separate the good from the great? The answer is – achievements. To really stand out among your peers, you need to demonstrate that you have that extra quality that makes all the difference to how your team functions. When writing your CV or your cover letter, make sure you include all relevant achievements and times you have outperformed those around you.

Presentation

Organisations spend a lot of time and money working on their image – developing their brand and producing as many positive signals as possible. As a staff member of the organisation, everything you do is a reflection of the firm you work for. This includes personal presentation! What others see and hear you do will influence their opinion of you and of the firm you work for, so excellent presentation is crucial to success in the legal industry – it is about perception, and having people perceive you positively always.

 

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Powerplayers Tour Recap

Our managing partner, Michelle Sneesby recently returned from a week long intensive Knowledge and Study Tour hosted at Californias’ UCLA. On November 25th, Michelle flew to LA to commence the PowerPlayers tour, alongside 19 other Australian entrepreneurs.

After initial hesitation and nerves, Michelle settled in, met the other entrepreneurs invited to the tour and the Founder and CEO of Business Chicks, Emma Isaacs. After a brief meeting, Michelle and the other guests headed back to their rooms to rest up before beginning the tour.

Networking

On the first day of the tour, Michelle explored the UCLA campus and did some networking with other like minded Australian business women. Michelle was blown away by the beauty of the UCLA campus, and so are we! Check out the pictures below.

Official Tour Day 1: Ian Larkin & ‘Growing Your Business’

Day one of the tour and Michelle was lucky enough to be sat next to successful Sydney lawyer Jennifer Bicknell.

Next up was speaker Ian Larkin who discussed growing a business using the Netflix success story as a springboard. Ian challenged the group and gave Michelle a lot of take home points to share with the empire teams.

Day 2: Leading a culture of service excellence

On day 2 Michelle and the team had an exciting day at Disneyland, taking the time to learn what makes each member of the tour special – what are their differences, and what sets them apart? Michelle also learnt about what makes Disneyland so unique. The attention to detail at Disneyland is unparalleled and it’s part of what makes the Disneyland experience so special.

Day 3: Dermalogica & Iris Furstenberg

The third day of the tour was a key day for Michelle. Beginning with a Q&A session with Dermalogica founder and CEO, Jane Wurwand, the morning was informative and thought provoking – but for Michelle, the best was yet to come.

Next up was speaker Dr. Iris Furstenberg. Iris is a professor of psychology and specialises in creative problem speaking and innovative thinking. She spoke about bringing the future to the present, the importance of being present and the psychology of being present. Iris was absolutely a highlight for Michelle and her favourite speaker.

Graduation!

After a week of learning at UCLA, Michelle and the rest of the team graduated.

The Knowledge and Study Tour was a challenging, exhausting, rewarding and an absolutely incredible experience.

Michelle was pushed out of her comfort zone, she made new connections, learnt new skills and developed both professionally and personally. Michelle is returning home with a new outlook on life and plenty of information and exciting new strategies to implement at empire.

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Key takeaways from the Powerplayers tour

In November of 2018, our managing partner Michelle Sneesby was invited to join 20 other entrepreneurs from all over Australia in a week long ‘Knowledge and Study PowerPlayers Tour’ held at California’s UCLA.

For Michelle, this was a huge step outside of her comfort zone – not only had she never been to University, she had never travelled on her own, nor had she ever left her children.

After the initial nerves wore off, Michelle and the other guests settled in and got to know one another, before commencing what Michelle called a ‘magical experience’ of new challenges, new learning, new experiences and new growth – both personally and professionally.

Michelle has boiled down a weeks worth of learning to five key takeaway points for those of us not lucky enough to be present at the PowerPlayers tour. Below are Michelle’s top takeaway points from the tour:


Be present – leave technology away when in a meeting.  Don’t allow phones or computers

The reality is, when people are allowed to bring computers or phones into a meeting, they won’t be focusing on the meeting or contributing to it either. Instead they will be emailing, surfing the web or just playing around with their technology.

A scientific study conducted of UCLA students noted that students who took notes by hand rather than using a computer or ipad had an increased understanding of concepts discussed. The study also noticed increased productivity levels among students using good old fashioned pen and paper. So next time you have a meeting, leave the laptop behind and instead opt for taking notes with a pen and paper – you just can’t argue with science!

Get 7 – 8 hours sleep every night – it’s more important than you think!

In some workplace cultures, working long hours and running on little to no sleep is worn as a badge of honor, but new research is proving that lack of sleep has hugely detrimental effects in the workplace. Sleep deprivation reduces alertness, cognition, and reaction time. Fatigue in the workplace can also lead to irritability, absenteeism, accidents, errors, injuries and even fatalities.

Culture is everything

Work culture is an intangible ecosystem that makes some workplaces great to work, and other places toxic. In a nutshell, the ideology of a organisation is what constitutes its work culture.

A positive work culture can make or maim an employees performance. No matter how talented or smart someone is, a person can work to the best of their capabilities and creative skills when surrounded by an encouraging environment that values human resource. Humans are fundamentally simple, and a positive workplace culture impacts the way they think, act and reflect.

Don’t discount your pricing – value the service you deliver

When you offer a discount on your product or service, what are you saying to your prospect? You’re saying that you don’t believe enough in what you’re selling to sell it for the standard price. Discounting can give customers the impression that the services offered aren’t worth paying for. Focus instead, on the value of the product you are selling, on the excellent services you deliver.

Have a plan

A plan is a critical tool used not only within a business, but also on a personal level.

Writing a plan forces disciplined thinking. An idea may sound great, but as your write down all the details and the numbers, it may fall apart. Specific, measurable planning is absolutely essential – excellent ideas can be completely useless if you cannot formulate, execute and implement a strategic plan to make your idea work.

Business Development Is Your Responsibility

The legal profession has a long history and some members of the profession can remember the days (somewhat fondly) before advertising, marketing and business development were words associated with a professional service. Work came from existing clients and people they told.Business-Development

Today, the challenges facing the profession, and individual lawyers – including globalisation, specialisation, the number of practising lawyers competing for work – mean that marketing and business development are skills that must be learnt.

Marketing and Business Development for lawyers and law firms is increasingly important in what can only be described as a very competitive market – for the service you give your clients needs to be coupled with a strategic approach to building your own and your firm’s profile, and what you can do for clients, and actually develop existing clients and bring in new clients as well.

What’s the difference?

Business development and marketing are not interchangeable terms and they have quite distinct responsibilities in a legal environment.

Marketing is about the promotion of the services you offer and establishing within your target market what your point of differentiation will be. Marketing involves things like advertising, website content, blogs, brochures, and public relations activities.

Business Development on the other hand is a strategic activity that focuses, on particular clients or industries. It is about networking, building connections and referral networks, strengthening existing relationships and cross referrals.

More and more, lawyers need to be very strategic about obtaining and retaining clients. Work doesn’t just come in the door, or over the phone. Even if you are currently very busy, you will need a ‘pipeline’ of work down the track to keep being busy and to maintain profitability.

Your clients are not buying a transaction from you, or your expertise. They are paying you to solve a problem or make something happen for them. Thinking about what you do to solve your clients’ problems will be integral to how you market yourself and develop business – because it is actually not about you, but your clients.

Most lawyers, unless they have done so as part of another degree, will not have studied anything to do with marketing or business development, and may be tempted to think that this is the responsibility of someone else. The truth however is that regardless of the size of the firm for whom you work, or your level of expertise, you have a responsibility for business development. It is a skill that can and should be learned.

7 Ways To Truly Develop Your Career

Career Planning 101!

We have written before about what ‘the best’ do in developing their careers (read that article here).

This time we are talking about some of these things in more detail.

Internal RelationshipsDevelop your Career 2

Good professional and personal relationships within your immediate team are important – but so are relationships with others in the firm.  If you want your career to progress you will need others to back you, not just your immediate supervisor.  Developing these relationships can also expose you to new work, clients and opportunities, crucial to career development.

Develop these by friendly greetings and asking people’s names when you meet them. Remembering names is also useful!  Participate in firm social activities and educational programs, and get involved in firm committees.

Industry involvement

Get to know the industry in which your clients work in detail.  Become a member of relevant industry associations and read relevant industry magazines and newspaper articles.  Know who the centres of influence are in the relevant industry and follow those people on LinkedIn, as well as other thought leaders.

If you are considering memberships, make sure the membership of those organisations are made up of people across a broad professional group.

Business Development

Understand that you are never too young to be involved in developing client relationships and looking for ways to add value to those relationships. You can do this by attending industry events, writing articles, attending and participating in external as well as internal client seminars.  Most importantly, stay in touch – the friends you make at University and in the early days of your career may one day be clients or potential clients.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses – honestly

Be honest with yourself about what you do well and what you can improve.  Don’t like public speaking?  Learn to love it and practice every presentation.  Good at creative writing?  Consider writing a regular column or article for an industry magazine.  Accept constructive feedback and act on it.

An honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses is necessary in order to truly develop.

If you have not already done so, undertake one or more of the behavioural assessments which will not only give you an insight into your own behavioural preferences, but will enable you to gain insight into others.

On the Job training

Every matter you conduct, or are involved in will teach you something, whether it be new technical skills, client skills, drafting, negotiation, or a myriad of other skills. If you find, however, that you are continuing to have the same sort of work delegated to you, you should be prepared to speak up and ask for more challenging work. Which leads us to…

Stretch Assignments and secondments

Stretch assignments are those matters that you may not think you have the capability to do, really would like to do but which will stretch you and your ability, and potentially your confidence.  You will learn more from putting your hand up for stretch assignments than in doing anything else.  Don’t make the mistake of fearing them – they are challenges, but worthy ones.

Similarly, client secondments are career development opportunities that you should embrace. You will learn about how clients use legal services, what clients expect, and how clients perceive lawyers and their advice.

Track your progress

Decide what you want your career to look like, track your progress, and you will get to where you want to go faster.

Happy Career Planning!