Are you a trainee solicitor due to qualify in 2020?
If so, you might be wondering about what employers are looking for in prospective candidates. Whilst particular skills may carry more weight depending on the firm, industry and specialism you work in, we have highlighted the top key skills that recruiters will look for on the CVs of future solicitors.
Even if you’re only at the very beginning of your legal career, building on an existing skillset still takes time. Gaining legal work experience is a great way to develop your abilities, so keep reading to find out which skills will be in demand for NQ Solicitors in 2020.
1. Commercial Awareness
Developing an understanding of business and business trends is crucial for prospective solicitors. Recognising that a law firm is a business and having an appreciation for the commercial value of keeping costs to a minimum and adhering to deadlines is key. Equally, clients expect solicitors to have an understanding of their business – how it operates, which economic and political matters might affect them etc. NQ Solicitors need to stay up to date with news and developments in business on a local, national and global scale to ensure that they are aware of issues affecting a firm and its clients. This will also enable you to appreciate both short and long-term business plans of clients and tailor your advice accordingly.
2. Communication and Relationship Building
It might seem obvious, but being a great communicator is one of a lawyer’s greatest strengths. Strong verbal communication is crucial, as you will be liaising with clients and working with colleagues. However, written communication is also an important skill for newly qualified solicitors. The ability to write concisely and convey technical language in a clear manner is a skill which comes into play in many solicitors’ duties – from writing letters and emails to drafting legal documents.
Collaborating and working well in a team is an essential for NQ Solicitors in 2020. Cases are not won solo and there is often a great deal of teamwork involved in the process. The ability to work with third parties and other departments in the firm is a highly desirable skill, especially when it comes to commercial firms or in-house departments where working across business functions is the norm.
4. Attention to Detail
A sharp eye for detail is an extremely important skill for a solicitor. Due to the sovereign nature of legal documents, a mistake in a contract or clause can change its meaning. Equally, grammatical errors and poor spelling in letters and emails can give a bad impression to clients, in turn affecting business.
5. Creative thinking
The ability to think creatively to find new or alternative solutions to problems is highly desirable. Demonstrating that you are a novel and adaptive problem-solver will get you far in the legal world, especially due to the competitive nature of the profession.
In ‘Horizon Scanning Forward Thinking: Future Skills for Law’, The Law Society has named transdisciplinary knowledge as an important skill for the legal minds of the future. Gaining a solid understanding of concepts across multiple disciplines allows you to think outside the box and will set you apart from other solicitors qualifying this year.
6. Research and analysis
The ability to conduct large amounts of research and then analyse this information and identify relevant points is crucial. Filtering information for importance and being able to convey this information clearly to a client is a quintessential skill for a newly qualified solicitor to possess.
It is likely that you will have already developed this skill in your academic studies, but the easiest way to practice is to read a long news article or a chapter of a book and summarise what you have read in five key bullet points.
Keeping up to date with changes in technology is key, as technological processes are constantly evolving. This means building on your existing knowledge and educating yourself in new forms of technology. Mastering technology to streamline processes and enhance efficiency will free up your time for other tasks including communicating with clients.
Additionally, as content is constantly being created in new media forms, the ability to analyse and build on this content for persuasive communication is a skill that prospective lawyers should aim towards.
8. Resilience and adaptability
Finally, resilience is probably the most important trait of a newly qualified lawyer. Law is not a career for the faint-hearted – the hours are long and there’s lots of hard graft involved, especially in the early stages of your career. Therefore, demonstrating your enthusiasm and commitment to law through work experience is key.
With determination also comes adaptability, which is a particularly important skill as we look to the future. The ability to be flexible and adapt to new changes will be important in the wake of Brexit. For lawyers due to qualify in 2021, the introduction of the new Solicitors’ Qualifying Examination (SQE) will mean that the industry will be going through change and that future trainees should prepare for this.
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful! For more career advice, CV tips and industry news and insights, visit the TotallyLegal blog.
Would you like to take part in an interview about your experience as an NQ Lawyer? If so, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.