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Showing posts from January, 2007

Interview Answer 5

Legal Interview question 5 (with answer) How do you react if you find that someone you work with does not like you? This question is positively evil! There is very little you can say that will result in a positive outcome. If you say "well I always try to work through our differences and create a comfortable working environment", you have opened yourself to cross-examination to ask why someone would not like you, and if you say you never have, your answer is very short and doesnt give you the chance to explain things further. In reality, there will be very few fee earners who have not worked in a solicitors firm or a legal job, and discovered that someone else there does not like them. It is a fact of life that not everyone can like you, and vice versa! I used to work in an office where almost everyone was at war, from the senior partner down to the receptionist, and the whole firm would degenerate into a brawl if things got out of hand! My advice on this one is to go with th

Is the LPC a waste of time?

30.01.07 'The LPC is a waste of time'. Some would even say a money tree for universities. I suspect this may be a fairly contentious view, so playing devils advocate, what exactly does the LPC do? Speaking from personal experience, I did my LPC by distance learning whilst studying for a training contract via the part time route. I have to say that being in practice I had a fairly good view of law in a practical setting, which a good number of my contemporaries also had. The LPC to us was simply a burning hoop to jump through in order to qualify. It almost seemed at times that the University were trying to get us through to qualify - allowing books into the examination, giving out specimen questions that were remarkably similar to the actual examination.  There is one university that combines the two courses (LLB and LPC) and this seems a good idea. However, the stark reality of the current solicitor profession is that there are two tiers to it - those solicitors in city legal j

Relocating to a legal job hotspot

28.01.07 Firms in some areas of the UK are crying out for lawyers in certain fields - where exactly are they? When it comes to relocating in the UK, it sometimes helps to have an idea as to where there are solicitors firms in need of lawyers for particular fields of law. Some legal job vacancies tend to be fairly easy to predict, whereas others are a bit more erratic.  Starting in the South West, there is almost always a shortage of general practice solicitors able to deal with conveyancing and something else. Family solicitors are usually in short supply down there, particularly the further west you go. On the south coast, it again tends to be commercial property solicitors that firms salivate at the sight of, as well as residential property and wills & probate. The latter tends to be quite popular in Sussex, around Eastbourne and further inland.  In the Wiltshire and Swindon areas, just about every field of law suffers from a shortage, and usually there is a firm somewhere lookin

Interview Answer 4

legal interview question 4 "What are your weaknesses?" This is a question that bamboozles a lot of lawyers, whether interviewing at trainee or senior partner stage. What on earth do you say? Two responses below: 'I can be a bit lazy at times, and I have been known to turn up to work late occasionally when I have overslept'. This would probably followed by 'why should we employ you then - what benefits would we get out of you joining our firm?' 'My team say that sometimes I work a bit too hard, and perhaps I need to take more time away from my work.'Whilst you have given a negative question a negative response, this has not opened up the floodgates to allow a partner in to cross examine you on how irresponsible/lazy/useless you are going to be when you join their firm. It is the old interview saying again that during this time you love everybody, and everybody loves you. Life is positive, and there are no negatives! Repeat this mantra again and again be

Interview Answers 3

legal interview question 3: "In your view, what are the major problems/opportunities facing the legal industry?" Tough question for anyone who does not read the Law Society Gazette and The Lawyer regularly! This does not cost a lot of money to do, more time. The Law Society Gazette can be read online and the The Lawyer can also be read online. If you read these and keep abreast of the issues arising both in terms of opportunities and also difficulties, you should be nicely prepared for this question. Make sure you know what current issues there are affecting law firms. Your job as a solicitor or trainee solicitor may well depend on it. For example, any lawyer not knowing about the Carter reforms in 2007 will be at a serious disadvantage if working in a high street setting dealing with LSC funded work. Try to concentrate on opportunities as well rather than problems. For example, both journals run articles on overseas and regional markets, outlining where there are opportuniti

Interview Answers 2

popular legal interview question: "Tell me about a time when you successfully handled a situation?" This is a question that regularly throws candidates attending legal job interviews - yikes, what on earth do I say to that?! - usually our advice is to think of something before you go for the job interview for this question, and make sure it has no negative overtones. I once attended a Legal 500 firm in Leeds for an interview (they have now merged into something larger if that gives the game away!), and got asked two questions similar to this. I managed to incorporate two deaths from accidents into the answers, which I am not sure went down too well! I think it is a good idea to think of something related to time spent in a law firm if possible, and describe a situation that is going to keep the interviewers attention. I have heard people use the "when I taught TEFL in Japan I needed to organise the classroom and teach to the right age etc..." or "when I went BU

Legal Job Update 17 01 07

Jobs added to the Ten-Percent Legal Job Database in the last week: 3113 Housing and community care solicitor sought by central London firm - LSC funded work Central London Housing 3112 Paralegal sought by insurance company to deal with specialist RTA arising from pets. Harrogate, North Yorkshire Personal Injury 1 3 3111 Private client and conveyancing solicitors or executives sought by central Bradford practice. Bradford, West Yorkshire Conveyancing, Wills & Probate NQ 1 3 5 P 3110 Balham firm seek a crime supervisor to join and run their department South London Crime 3 5 P 3109 Crime solicitor or accredited police station rep sought by Southampton firm. Southampton, Hampshire, South Coast Crime NQ 1 3 5 P 3108 Conveyancing solicitor or executive sought by central Leicester firm in nice location. Leicester, Leicestershire, East Midlands Conveyancing NQ 1 3 3107 Employment solicitor sought by Bristol practice of medium size to deal with a range of contentious and non-contentious wo

Why do you want to be a solicitor?

popular legal interview question: "why do you want to be a solicitor at this firm?" Well, why do you? Usually I hear answers like - "since I have been at primary school I have always felt that the diversity and scope for career development suited my own skills set and ambitions..." etc.. etc.. I don't think I have ever listened to a word that anyone has said on the subject apart from one candidate who asked "well why did you want to be a solicitor - I suspect I want to be for the same reasons - good career, social status and reasonable standard of living". Fair enough! There is no right or wrong answer to this question. If you are asked it at the start of the interview, it is usually because the senior partner has not looked at your CV and wants you to waffle whilst he finds it, or it is to loosen you up for more interesting questions. Try not to waffle, keep your answer short and sweet, and try to say something you think the person interviewing you ma

Lawyers Working Conditions

15.01.07 "I want to move because my current office is affecting my health - damp on the walls, mould on the ceiling, and freezing cold. No pay rise for anyone at the firm in 5 years" Another firm yet to wake up to the realities of modern day living - being nice to your legal staff and giving them heating of some sort! This entry was included over the weekend in a candidate's registration form for legal jobs on our website. His salary was not particularly brilliant, and probably would not even result in being able to purchase 1 bedroomed flat in most areas of the UK, and I suspect the firm have a very high staff turnover rate. We find some firms seem to consider that when they rent premises they do not need to do any work on the surroundings that may make things too comfortable for their staff. Perhaps it is the worry that lawyers go to sleep when it gets too warm, or may not be so productive. It doesnt take much to get a can of paint, a new carpet, some decent blinds and

Planning Legal Career Paths

11.01.07 "I've heard a lot of talk about career paths - what should I be doing about this, and is it a good idea to plan 5 years in advance when working in a law firm?" It is very hard to know what a legal career is all about when you start out in law. Firstly you achieve great things when you graduate from University with a law degree. 3-4 years of hard graft, and what do you get out of it? Another 3 years of hard graft! 1 year on the LPC followed by two years of training contract, which can involve working for peanuts and being asked to do jobs such as clean the solicitors' cars, or go and fetch the secretaries' lunch! Finally, after 6-7 years of slaving away results in you qualifying as a solicitor, and you wake up the following morning pleased with yourself. But what then - great you are a newly qualified solicitor? But where do you need to aim to from there? Well it all depends on what your ambitions are. Sit down with a pen, and work out where you want to be

Are Legal Job Boards a waste of time?

10.01.07 "why waste time searching legal job boards when you can register with one agency to look at every option for you?" The opposite argument is of course that you might miss a whole load of posts arising! We used to subscribe to a legal job board, who of course must remain nameless, but we found that almost totally all the candidates who registered with us, registered with every other agent out there as well, and firms were getting CVs from all angles pitching up at them. We simply found that spending time sifting through CVs from unsuitable candidates and responding, as well as posting vacancies constantly on the sites was taking too much of our time, so we gave up - we wanted to spend time speaking to contacts, searching for opportunities and marketing our candidates rather than looking at lists and sifting all the time. In the same way, we argue that you do not actually need to search the boards if you find a good legal recruitment consultant to act for you. We would

Skills of Negotiation Questions for Law Firms

"Describe a situation requiring skills of negotiation and verbal reasoning". Why is this question asked, and how come I can only remember the first two words whenever I get asked it?! This question is asked to basically put you on the spot and see if you can remember sentences that last for longer than 3 words. I have asked this question so many times, and by the end of the answer (if indeed one is forthcoming) I have started to do the shopping for that evening or wondered why anyone would want to be a lawyer when they have to think up ridiculous answers to ridiculous questions! I have also answered it lots of times when looking many years ago for a training contract or paralegal work. There is no right and wrong answer to it, or no interview guru advice I can give. The advice has to be to jump through the hoop and give your somewhat boring and tedious answer without making the listener go to sleep too much. Usually we recommend thinking of a situation involving a commercial

Business Acumen

08.01.07 "business acumen" - what's it all about? This term comes up quite often in legal job interviews, whether for training contracts or qualified solicitor roles. But what exactly does it mean? In reality, not a lot! The usual question is along the lines of "can you give an example of when you have had to demonstrate business acumen in a legal, commercial setting or otherwise". You then start to waffle about your student days and when you saved the hang gliding club 30p by introducing more efficient advertising on the student boards! What the law firms are looking for (we think) are demonstrations where you have understand the reality of the legal profession. The law is all about money - law firms are there to make money, and to gain business acumen you simply have to understand this fact - it is not a dirty word, nor is it some sort of immoral side to the business. The reality is that law firms, partners, solicitors and assistant solicitors together with an

I want a training contract

05.01.07 I want a training contract and you're going to help me - after all, you are a recruitment consultant... This is often an approach taken by law students or graduates hunting around for work experience or training contracts who seem to think that if they utilise their cross examination skills well, a lowly recruitment consultant will eventually cave in and admit that they can actually identify a training contract for them and book an interview there and then. The call usually goes: "Hi - I'm a graduate not quite qualified with an LLB - I want a training contract." "Right - and what do you think we can do to help". "Well, you are recruitment consultants arent you?" "Yes, but we specialise in solicitors." "Well, I am almost a solicitor - I have an LLB - why can't you get me a training contract?" "Because we only assist qualified solicitors - have you visited our careers page for our free guide on obtaining a traini

Money for Old Rope

04.01.07 "All you do is send out a CV and make a telephone call to get paid a fortune - recruitment consultants are like estate agents!" I like to think that as a legal recruitment consultant I work very hard for our clients and candidates. What a lot of people do not understand is the amount of work we have to put in to attract solicitors, lawyers and legal executives to our sites and services. The average cost of recruiting a solicitor without an agency is about £3,600 including advertising and time spent interviewing and selecting. That is assuming you can find a solicitor - a good number of legal jobs are left vacant for a considerable amount of time - it can be up to a couple of years or more. I thought it might be worth setting out what we do. Firstly our site is optimised each month to push us up the search engine ratings - we are usually in the top 5 on Google, MSN and Yahoo, although MSN has recently changed its search patterns, and most of the larger agencies have

Are Recruitment Consultants crooks?

are Recruitment Consultants crooks? "After all you lie, cheat and generally behave abominably without making much effort to help anyone find a job!" I think some firms are convinced that consultants are there simply to cream off money that would otherwise have gone into the partners pockets. I have heard it said that we effectively swindle firms into handing over huge swathes of cash for no work or actual knowledge about the candidate or the firm we are dealing with. Well, most consultants these days are trained and qualified. Whilst I have to accept that this does not mean that the market has avoided its fair share of cowboy operators, it does mean that a good number of consultants have obtained MREC or FREC status from the REC - Recruitment & Employment Confederation ( ) and have agreed to adhere to policies of best practice and ethical standards. I have not seen or heard of many consultants in recent years acting in ways that you would think them to be la
Is the Legal Job market cyclical? We notice whenever there is World Cup, a serious incident in world politics, Christmas Parties, Christmas shopping, New Years resolution season, NQ qualification season and so forth. The answer therefore is yes! The year always starts fairly slowly - over the Xmas break some solicitors have a think about their current legal job, and have a trawl of the legal recruitment consultancies. We get registrations from all over the UK. After the New Year, and when everyone has that depressing moment when they have to go back to work, we get the New Years resolutions registering - wanting a change, or just seeing what the grass is like on the other side of the fence. This carries on for a few weeks into February, when the market picks up to its maximum peak, before quietening down for the half term. Following this, the market is busy again until Easter and the end of the tax year in April. The first two weeks of April are always very quiet, as the firms are col