Students, Wondering What Hiring Firms Look For?

In a competitive job market, it’s important to consider not only what kind of work YOU want to do (and in what kind of environment), but also what legal employers are looking for in a new hire.

This does NOT mean that you need to contort yourself and your interests into a one-size-fits-all mold to have any hope of finding a job. In fact, when we asked law firm spokespeople from across Ontario to describe the perfect candidate, we were surprised with the variety in their responses (see our article “Finders & keepers: Recruiting and retaining the best talent”). As it turns out, law firm hiring strategies vary considerably, depending on factors like firm size and firm location. For example, one large firm recruiter noted that the firm grows mainly by hiring back articling students, and so experience is not as important to them as having basic qualities that can’t be “trained into” a candidate: sound judgment, strong interpersonal skills, and a capacity for teamwork. By contrast, the heads of a smaller firm in a smaller town emphasize the need to be able to trust a candidate with the carriage of a file when the partners are away – an approach that suggests a higher value on maturity and independence.

The message? Law firms are just as varied as the lawyers who apply to work for them. As you prepare for your job search, consider your own particular strengths. Somewhere out there are firms – or even non-traditional legal jobs – looking for the skills and qualities YOU have to offer. Taking the time to find them means your best chance at a career tailor-made for you.

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