Legal Careers News - February 2011 http://www.legal-recruitment.co.uk/ Edited by Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment Contents Legal Job Market Report 1st February 2011 Career Coaching in London - Weds 9th February - from ÂŁ150 9 Mistakes to avoid when completing Application Forms Interview Answers - I want to be a lawyer to help other people Do extra-curricular activities enhance my CV? 10 Students or Graduates sought for Legal Careers Training Day in Chester Legal Job Market Report 1st February 2011 Hello and welcome to February Legal Careers News - Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment is offering ten law students/graduates the chance to attend a legal careers training day at no charge in Chester on 17th February - for full details please see below. There is also a Career Coaching day coming up in London on 9th February if you are looking for external guidance with your job search from a legal careers professional. The outlook for 2011 is still positive. The Reed Job Index is showing record levels of job posting still across all sectors. In the legal sector we have had a number of requests for quotes for Ten Percent Unlimited (employers looking to recruit an unlimited number of candidates at a set price) and this is a good indicator as it means those employers know that in the next 3 to 6 months they intend to recruit on a relatively large scale which is always a good sign. Vacancies have been coming through, although they have not yet picked up to their level we would expect after Christmas and we anticipate that over the next two to three weeks we will start to see a large increase in jobs coming on stream. Less and less candidates of any quality are now available for general recruitment as the market has started to contract back again. That does not mean there are no candidates looking for work at present, far from it - the pool of suitable candidates stays very small indeed for most positions, even at training contract level. You may think you are a potential trainee, but if you do not have or clearly set out the skills or experience an employer is looking for, you may as well not bother applying. Newly qualified and more experienced solicitors are still going to struggle for the next three to four years I think to find good positions in certain areas of the country and particular fields of law. However, in quite a large number of areas there is plenty of activity for solicitors between 1 and 10 years PQE. We are still getting firms requesting solicitors with the following, which is always a problem as they do not really exist anymore (restrictive covenants tend to put paid to that one unless someone is coming from their own law firm but then often they are damaged goods or have insurance issues that other firms do not want to take on). We still have vacancies that have not been filled after 3 to 4 months and do not anticipate a change in this situation for the next 6 to 12 months or longer. If the property market picks up over the next 6 months we will see a large increase in the lack of good candidates as smaller firms look to increase their size. We have not heard many firms discussing the new multi-disciplinary partnership arrangements coming in over the next 12 months, and I suspect that there will be a slight shudder in the market when these do finally come in but once new companies are businesses look at the regulation involved in running a solicitorsâ€™ practice or an alternative practice they may think twice before
deciding to move into the field (The Co-Op Legal Services excluded of course). Very important to know about these at any interview you go to in the next 6-9 months... Jonathan Fagan, MD Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. www.ten-percent.co.uk Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment maintains a database of over 8,000 solicitors, legal executives, fee earners, legal cashiers and office managers. Links: Register Vacancies Online About Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment Ten-Percent Foundation - Charitable Trust Access our Candidate Database for 12 months Legal Career Coaching Day February 9th 2011 Looking for help in your quest for a training contract, work experience or mini-pupillage? Worried about interviews? Come and see an experienced Legal Career Coach for a session - interview practice, careers advice, CV reviews and preparation. We have sessions available this month for our career coaching day in London with Jonathan Fagan on Wednesday 9th February. You can either choose to have a one-off consultation on an hourly rate or alternatively pay for our Careers Coaching for Life service. To get further information or book a session please email us at email@example.com with the reference LCN02. It would assist to have an idea of your situation and a current CV if possible. For details of all our careers services, including CV Reviews, DIY Legal Careers Advice, CV Writing and eBooks please visit www.ten-percent.co.uk/careersshop. How to Effectively Complete Application Forms Completing application forms has always been considered by many to be something fairly straightforward, although time consuming, and people often ask why anyone would need to spend much time on them. Students applying for work experience and training contracts have probably got to the stage where they are completely fed up with filling out these forms, particularly for the Magic Circle firms, who all seem to use the same software package and ask very similar but slightly different questions which necessitates careful thinking on each occasion. On the whole application forms are used to benchmark all applications within very specific fields - the usual suspect is undergraduate degree classification - for training contracts, pupillage and work experience. At a later stage in careers all those without a consistent academic career and relevant experience will be removed from the shortlist. Based on our experiences both as recruiters and careers advisers (Ten-Percent Legal Careers offer Application Form Reviews) here are nine common mistakes to avoid on application forms: 1. Spelling mistakes. Over the years we have been reviewing application forms at all levels, including the Judiciary and Senior Solicitor stages, we have rarely seen a form that does not contain a spelling or grammatical mistake somewhere. These can be an absolute killer if they are spotted. 2. Not going into sufficient detail as requested on the application form. An example of this would be under the academic stage where specific grades are asked for and applicants choose to be selective in which subjects they put down. 3. Not answering the question asked on the form. This is the major fault a rather large number of applicants, particularly at training contract level. You must read the question carefully and
answer it in order. An example of this would be “describe a situation when you were involved in a project and explain what your involvement was, any problems that arose and the outcome”. This question has about five or six different sections to it yet the vast majority of applicants will only answer one or two and almost always will cut and paste a problem they think loosely fits and hope for the best, whereas in reality doing this will almost always result in them being marked down for that particular question. 4. Giving too much information of a negative nature because there is a space on the form to fill out. An example of this would be when the form asks if there were any extenuating circumstances behind an academic result and someone spends 3 paragraphs explaining how they had shingles at university before their final exam and they feel this affected their result. Think very carefully before filling out this section with anything negative. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes and ask if anything going on in your personal life should affect your ability to do your job and if yes, whether you would employ someone who considered this acceptable. My usual advice is that on the vast majority of occasions these sections should be left blank unless there is a very good set of circumstances to explain a particular academic grade etc... 5. Using examples from academic or home life rather than work. An example of this would be “describe a situation when you have been part of a team and had to overcome a problem” type question and somebody gives an example of when they had to organise a child’s party at home for a relative. All very well and good but not really related to the world of work and hence not going to add much to an application. 6. Feeling the need to fill up space. Do not feel that because there is a large space on a form you need to give an answer that fills the entire space when really it only requires a few words. So many people, particularly training contracts and work experience applicants fill every single space on the application form with typing because they think they are missing something if they leave a blank. This is just astonishing. One of the major skills of a lawyer is to be able to be concise and summarise points. If you feel the need to fill in every single space with text this does not exactly bode well for your later ability at presenting a case or giving advice to a client. 7. Unnecessary Waffle. Waffling is something done by just about everyone on application forms and usually involves an attempt to use business speak to fill in space without actually saying anything. Whilst this may feel impressive, it is frustrating when reading through application forms as it is just impossible to comprehend. I strongly recommend not using business terminology wherever possible unless it is necessary and being very conscious of any waffling that you start to do. 8. Putting irrelevant detail into boxes asking for specific answers. The best example of this is when a form has space for positions of responsibility and someone puts in that they were a school prefect twenty years ago, or had helped to set out the books at the start of a class at university. Positions of responsibility are usually something along the lines of captain of your local cricket team, chairman of the local rotary club, head boy at school or president of the student union. Responses such as classroom assistant, librarian, member of the University Law Society do not go down very well and probably would be best left off the application form completely. 9. Filling out the 'Any Other Information' section with a load of nonsense. So many people cut and paste in anything they have missed out of the other sections into this bit that it almost renders the whole application completely useless. It is almost as if people feel the need to just fill in the space or get over every single point that they feel they need to. Try to avoid these common mistakes and you may discover a better response to your application forms. However do not spend significant times filling out application forms for firms where it is
pretty obvious unless you have the right academics and the right background you are not going to get anywhere. For assistance with Application Form reviews, Covering Letter reviews, CV Reviews and CV Writing, please visit http://www.ten-percent.co.uk/careersshop Interview Answers - I want to be a lawyer to help other people Why do you want to be a Solicitor? Why the law? Why have you taken this decision to practice law? A very common answer is: "I want to go into law to help other people." â€œI have always wanted to be a lawyer because I know they help other people, help free the innocent, defend the poor and make sure justice is served where appropriate. Human rights and international law are both of great interest to meâ€?. So many people go into the legal profession with this principle in their head. It is so nice to have moral standards and principles, and also think that you can get paid to do work that is meaningful in this way. Unfortunately the harsh reality is that there are hardly any jobs at all that will let you do anything as meaningful as this. In the UK there are probably about four Human Rights firms who all struggle on each year with hardly any funding and undertaking cases for little money, sometimes for nothing in return for the media exposure. In reality it seems that there are hardly any cases with actual Human Rights links to them, as most fit within other fields of law such as crime, welfare benefits, civil litigation and employment law. International law is the same. International law very often is commercial law and disputes between countries are often handled on a diplomatic level rather than on a legal level. It is true that there are international courts of justice and various judicial procedures relating to disputes between countries in terms of territory and actions. However, the amount of job opportunities that will allow your exposure to this type of work are extremely rare and there are only a handful of lawyers undertaking this work on a regular basis. People often go to their first job interviews in the legal profession with these sorts of moral ideas for entering into law and are often unpleasantly surprised to find that actually the legal profession is a business in whichever form you join it. For example, if you decide you want to be a Legal Aid lawyer, and god forbid that you do, you will find that all the firms, organisations and charities will except you to bill a certain number of hours each day in Legal Aid work so that they can get paid and make a profit. If you are unable to bill certain levels the organisation you work for will find itself out of business very quickly. Small practices on the high street are run by businessmen and women who are there to make money and have a reasonable standard of living. As an entrant to the profession you are one thing and one thing only to them, and that is a vehicle for making profit. It is true that some of the cases you may work on may be to help people but on the vast majority of occasions work in all fields of law simply work as a means to an end, without any moral reward to it. Don't think it is any different working at a Law Centre or Citizens Advice Bureau - they all have government funding to provide a service and have to justify their existence every 6 or 12 months. So if you have these designs and plans for your future career, namely to get some sort of moral pleasure from doing it, law is not for you. The legal profession is a money vehicle that will help
some people some of the time, but the vast majority of the time is simply there to facilitate a process, make money and act for a client with not only their interests at heart but also the companyâ€™s interests. This is probably fairly cynical, but it is important for you to understand that there is a reason behind firms asking you questions about 'commercial awareness' and 'business acumen'. For assistance with interviews or interview coaching, please visit our careers shop at www.tenpercent.co.uk/careersshop or alternatively read our online blog with over 200 articles at www.legalrecruitment.blogspot.com Do Extra Curricular Activities Enhance my CV? We were asked this question last week during a career coaching session and whether there were any particular activities or interests that added value to a CV or a career. My advice was yes, but probably not for the reasons you would think. If you are a student or graduate about to set out on your legal career then activities and interests involving team work are the Holy Grail of this particular section. To find that someone plays for their local hockey team, has played football to a fairly high level or captained a Sunday league side in recent times demonstrates someone who is able to get on with others, work as part of a team and enjoy a good healthy social life and is fairly fit. For solicitors and lawyers this is somewhat different. If you are a member of a team you suddenly have a potential network of clients or sources of referral who may generate you and your firm work now or in the future. Reading, watching TV and socialising with friends does not really give anyone looking at a CV much information about you as a person except that you probably do not do very much at all apart from go to work and watch TV. Activities and interests have always been fundamental to ensuring a CV is well rounded and interesting and for the two reasons above it does add value if you can get some sort of team work style activity or sport on to it. If you do not have anything to add to this section, go and get involved in an activity. You will not only enhance your CV but also your own life (hopefully). Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment who regularly holds career coaching sessions and assists solicitors up and down the country with careers issues as well as recruitment. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org Ten Percent Legal Careers Services are looking for 10 students or graduates to attend a Training Day worth ÂŁ175 Ten Percent Legal Recruitment are filming a new legal careers training course to be sold via our online Legal Careers Shop and seek 10 volunteers to join us for a day of free training in Chester. The training day will include a full CV review and rewrite, covering letter reviews and preparation, interview training and techniques (training contracts, pupillage, paralegal and vacation placement interview styles), job hunting techniques and strategies, application form completion, improving career prospects, career progression and alternative plans. It will be held in Chester on February 17th from 10.30am to 4.30pm.
In the past we have charged ÂŁ150 for this course but we would like to offer it free of charge to 10 people in return for your consent to be filmed for our new Online Training Series. If you are interested in coming along on 17th February please send us an email to (email@example.com) with your CV and a quick paragraph to explain why you think you are suitable to attend, and we will let you know if you have been successful. The course will be suitable for anyone who has undertaken or is about to undertake a degree, the LPC, the BVC or GDL. It is not suitable for qualified lawyers, overseas lawyers or solicitors. It will be with me, Jonathan Fagan, LLM, LLB, Solicitor (non-practising), Cert RP, MIRP, MAC. I am a qualified solicitor, recruitment consultant and career coach, I have been training at this level for about 10 years and regularly run workshops at University for LPC students on these subjects. The aim of the course is to give you a head start into getting ahead in law and includes a full overview of careers in the legal profession and how to get a training contract, work experience, fee earning job, paralegal role or pupilage. FAQs: 1. What's the catch? No catch. We are simply wanting to film our training course and need to run a workshop in order to do this. 2. Is there really no charge? Yes, no charge at all. You just have to get yourself to the venue wearing smart clothing - preferably a suit - and we will give you 6-7 hours of our time at no cost or future commitment. We will not sell anything to you either. 3. Where is Chester? In the North West - it takes about 2 hours to get from London Euston to Chester on the train. 4. What if I cannot attend and have to cancel? If you do not have a good reason we will charge you ÂŁ50, as you will have prevented someone else from coming on the course. 5. When will the training course be available online? From April 2011 via our online shop. 6. Can I telephone you to discuss this? No, absolutely not. We do not have the resources to cope with the calls I am afraid. All contact via email please. Salary Review Update The Ten-Percent Legal Salary Survey is now available and updated online - Click the link below to view the surveys, which are broken down into geographical areas: http://www.tenpercent.co.uk/salary-reviews-for-lawyers-ten-percent-legal-recruitment.html Our most recent Crime Solicitor salary list is available on our blog at http://www.legalrecruitment.blogspot.com/ Ten-Percent Legal Careers Shop We provide legal CV writing, a range of Careers Books including interview techniques and CV writing, Career Coaching and other services. Ten-Percent Legal Careers have been operating since April 2000 and have assisted many lawyers, law graduates and entrants to the legal profession with a wide range of services. For further information please visit our shop. www.tenpercent.co.uk/careersshop About Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment Formed in April 2000, Ten-Percent is an innovative recruitment service run online for law firms and employers across the UK and offshore. Over 1,300 law firms and companies have used our services, and we have over 8,000 solicitors & legal executives registered for opportunities, as well as other fee earners and support staff. We donate 10% of our annual profits to charity. http://www.ten-percent.co.uk/
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Legal Careers News for Law Students, Graduates and entrants to the legal profession with advice on interview technique, job applications and...