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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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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.

First impressions can be lasting impressions – The Employer – Part 2

In the previous blog post we talked about how first impressions are so very important for employees. Similarly for employers, the impression you give to new starters will be a lasting one of you as an employer. Here are some of the things you can do to create a good impression with your employees, and help ensure that they continue to look forward to coming to work:

  • Make sure whoever is on reception knows who is coming and what their name is so they can be welcomed accordingly.
  • A large organisation will have (or should have) a formal orientation program. If you are a smaller organisation, or don’t have an orientation program, a small welcome pack which contains stationery, a list of commonly used phone numbers and a floor plan is a really good start.
  • Have someone show them around the office so they can familiarise themselves with the important things like fire escapes (!), bathrooms, and the chocolate dispensing machine.Thank you!
  • Make sure that whatever desk your employee is sitting at has been cleaned and ready for them to use. There is only one thing more dispiriting for new employees to come into an office and find that the belongings of the previous occupant are still at their desk and that no one has been told they are starting!
  • Make time – make sure your new employee is given time by their immediate supervisor to have the role explained and answer any questions the employee might have.
  • Set calendar appointments for probation reviews so that the employee knows when to expect those meetings and how to prepare for them.
  • Assign a buddy – if the organisation is a large one, assign a buddy for your new employee so that they have a peer they can turn to if they have any questions.
  • Say thank you – nothing brightens the day for a new employee than having the boss say “thank you”, even for the smallest things.
  • Wrap up – at the end of your new employee’s first week make sure you take the time to sit down with them and just ask them how they found it and if they have any questions they need answered.

Remember – It’s the little things that count.

8 Things for Employers to Do This Year

The first month of the year is gone and before you know it will be the end of the financial year, then time for Christmas party invitations.  As an employer, what will 2015 bring for you?  Will you be the person your staff look forward to seeing when they come to work?  Will your staff be engaged, happy and willing to go the extra mile for you?8 things for employers

Here are eight easy things you can resolve to do in 2015:

Conduct your staff appraisals on time – don’t put them off, whether you are giving good news or bad.  And remember that appraisals are to cover off the last 12 months, not the last 2 weeks.  And if someone is not performing, before you leap into performance management consider whether coaching or mentoring will be of benefit first.

Review your policies – check that they are up to date and reflect your firm values and promote you as an employer of choice. Are you able to exercise discretion if needs be in situations of hardship?

Review salaries on the basis of gender and level – are you sure your staff are paid based on merit?  Conducting a comparative review of salaries based on year level and gender will show you where there are problems if you have a staff member at risk of leaving, and also if there are discrepancies based on gender.  Ask yourself honestly if differences are really based on performance or bias.

Deal with complaints or allegations of improper conduct immediately – remember the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. If someone trusts you to open up to you about a concern they have with someone else’s behaviour, don’t betray that trust by not confronting it.

Adopt the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation mental health guidelines (http://www.tjmf.org.au/raise-the-standard/) – review where you are and honestly commit to where you want to be.  Open up a conversation with one of your staff members if you are concerned about their mental health.

Make your promotion procedures transparent – are your promotions criteria and the performance criteria for senior associate and partner known?   Some firms keep this a deep dark secret but transparency of process and standards has a lot going for it. It allows for honest conversations about promotional prospects and gives staff something to aim for.

Keep your stars engaged and stretched intellectually – if you have a star performer, it is imperative to make sure they are not only engaged, but busy and also stretched intellectually.  Introduce them to clients, give them responsibility, and stretch assignments to give them new skills and a challenge.

Commit to flexible working – Flexible work is the way of the future.  It is the way of work now for many workplaces.  Don’t be left behind.  Check your own assumptions and biases about how people work.  Commit to measuring output not hours in the office.  For roles that genuinely require attendance in the office offer flexibility in terms of start and finish times.  Your generosity will be rewarded with loyalty.

Doing things the way you have always done them will result in the same output.  What can you do differently this year to enhance your performance as an employer?