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New Recruits in Private Practice: What Do Law Firms Look For?

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New Recruits in Private Practice: What Do Law Firms Look For?

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As of 2019, there were approximately 146,400 practicing solicitors across 10,402 firms in the UK, which is quite a significant number. Moreover, a recent Chambers Student article crunched some impressive numbers when considering how many training contracts were available to applicants within the sector.

If you are thinking about getting a training contract of such nature, there are a few indicators that all private practice firms will examine when judging the calibre of a prospective trainee. The journey to being considered for a training contract can be a long one, as there are a few stages to the process: from your preliminary meeting with graduate recruiters to the moment you will interview with partners of the private practice firm, make sure you are always bringing your best self and showcasing the below characteristics.

Commercial Awareness

Being entrepreneurial and acutely aware of developments not only within the ambit of a business itself but how these developments might influence the legal industry is imperative to any candidate's successful application. Whether this is taking an enthusiastic interest in commercial affairs, displaying an obvious entrepreneurial spirit or having a strong understanding of how certain commercial developments will have an impact on one's firm, being commercially aware is a standard trait firms look for in aspiring solicitors. This usually imbues a confidence within the firm that the trainee can comprehend how external commercial activity and the business' internal commercial objectives are not mutually exclusive.

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

It is essential that a prospective candidate is able to communicate coherently and in an articulate manner. This applies to both verbal and written communication skills. Naturally, a trainee is going to spend a significant portion of their time drafting letters to clients and various documents, so it is essential that one can present their ideas concisely and professionally while simultaneously using the technical language that will be required.

Additionally, strong interpersonal skills are a vital component of any solicitor' skillset. Aside from the obvious relationships that will need to be developed at a private practice firm amongst your peers, the ability to cultivate and strengthen client relationships is of course crucial when establishing a career as a solicitor. Not only will this allow your confidence to build but will only stand you in good stead after the completion of your training contract.

Individual and Academic Ability

Naturally, a strong academic track record is important for most, if not all firms. The complexity of matters that a solicitor needs to attend to daily means that trainees need to be able to display the appropriate mental capacity to do so. While a private practice firm would of course not expect an applicant to be able to comprehend intricate and detailed matters upon an immediate start, your academic achievements and ability are indicative of your capacity to grasp what you will eventually need to deal with during one's training contract and career thereafter.

While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the attributes one should possess when interviewing with a private practice law firm, further traits such as time management and attention to detail are jut as crucial, the above qualities are deemed imperative for any aspiring trainee to possess in the early stages of their career and beyond.


Tevia Kretzmer is a Legal Consultant at Rutherford, the executive compliance, financial crime, legal and cyber security recruitment specialists.
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