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24 May

What Skills Are Employers Looking for in Legal Candidates?

by: Astor Professional Search

What skills are employers looking for in legal candidates? This question is common among legal candidates in Chicago, Illinois. Employers in the rapidly evolving legal landscape look beyond educational background and legal experience when hiring talent. They look for candidates with technological proficiency, commercial awareness, legal research skills, good communication, keen attention to detail, and collaboration ability. Developing these in-demand skills allows you to stand out from other candidates and improve your chances of securing a job in the competitive legal market.

Lawyer and client are handshaking after successful meeting. What skills are employers looking for in legal candidates

Call Astor Professional Search at (312) 781-9000 for job search and placement assistance in Chicago, Illinois.

What Are in-Demand Skills for Legal Candidates?

Companies hiring legal talent tend to look for the following skills:

Technological Proficiency

Most statutes, legal writings, and case laws are now available online. Lawyers in demand are those that are technologically proficient. These lawyers can leverage online resources and databases to perform timely and accurate legal research. They can use document management systems to keep large volumes of legal documents organized and secure.

Technological proficiency ensures effective communication with clients via the latest platforms like client portals, instant messaging apps, and video conferencing tools. Modern communication tools allow legal professionals to be accessible, responsive, and to build meaningful connections with their clients.

You can stand out in a competitive job market if you demonstrate technological proficiency in your application and interview. You can do that by highlighting how you have attended workshops, engaged in competitions, and completed online courses relevant to your practice area.

Commercial Awareness

Commercial awareness is the most highly sought-after skill in the legal job market. It involves remaining up-to-date on trends in the business and commercial scene. It also entails understanding how those trends affect a law firm and its clients.

Law firms seek professionals who can bring new clients and build meaningful connections with existing ones. These professionals must recognize that law firms are for-profit entities. So, they must be aware of factors that can help them maintain or increase their profit margins. These factors include completing tasks on time, handling clients courteously and professionally, and keeping sensitive information confidential.

Attorneys must research issues that may impact their business socially, politically, economically, or technologically. This knowledge allows attorneys to offer thoughtful and actionable legal advice.

Research is the most effective way to develop this skill. This research may involve reading business publications, listening to relevant business podcasts, and keeping up with the latest transactions, technological developments, and regulatory changes.

Gaining work experience is another effective way to become commercially aware. Working in a law firm allows you to learn how a business runs, what drives growth and profitability, and how to use available resources efficiently. Attending industry-specific events and networking with professionals can also help you develop commercial awareness.

Good Communication

Law firms prefer candidates with good communication abilities. Effective communication in the legal landscape constitutes several skills. Oral communication skills, for instance, allow you to present a case in court, handle negotiations, and interact with clients and colleagues.

Good listening skills enable you to understand the client’s unique needs, build trust, and cultivate open communication. You should then customize your legal advice to align with the client’s goals and aspirations.

Written communication is also essential in the legal profession. Your job may involve creating legal documents like contracts, briefs, and motions. You must ensure these documents are accurate and concise to prevent misinterpretations.

You can demonstrate effective legal communication by submitting well-organized, grammatically correct, and error-free application forms, resumes, and cover letters. You can also describe a scenario where you had to explain complex legal matters to a client. Citing any legal writing you have published on local blogs, magazines, and journals can also help display your written communication abilities.

Asking the best questions at a law firm interview is another way to display your strong verbal communication skills.

Legal Research Skills

Law firms value candidates with impeccable research skills. These skills are instrumental when performing background work on a legal matter, creating legal documents, and explaining confusing issues to clients.

Display your legal research skills in your resume by mentioning relevant coursework or projects you have completed as a law student or a practicing lawyer. You can also showcase these skills by specifying the research tools and databases you are competent in using.

Keen Eye for Detail

Legal candidates with keen attention to detail have a higher chance of getting invited for an interview and landing a job than their counterparts who lack this skill. A missing word can alter the interpretation of a contract or clause. Emails, letters, and legal documents with grammatical mistakes can create a negative impression on clients. Such mistakes can prevent you from converting a client. It can also cost you an existing client.

Showcase your keen eye for detail by proofreading your application materials thoroughly before submitting them to the hiring manager. Research the law firm, the position you are interested in, and the interview panel. You should then ensure your responses reflect information about the company or the position.

Collaboration and Teamwork

Legal employers recognize that collaboration and teamwork are essential for adapting and surviving in the rapidly changing profession. As such, they look for candidates who have mastered the art of collaborating with others and working in a team to achieve a common goal.

Law firms that have invested in enhancing collaboration and teamwork are likelier to gain new clients and more business from existing clients. Clients who find outside law firms with strong collaboration spend up to 56% of their money at those firms. That figure represents more than twice what they spend on the firms they regularly use.

Working closely with colleagues allows you to share knowledge, seek clarifications, and learn about the latest legal trends. It also allows you to address multi-jurisdictional client issues or matters outside your practice area.

You can demonstrate collaboration on your resume by highlighting a project you completed with colleagues and explaining your role in its success. You can also showcase your collaborative skills during the interview by briefly describing your communication style and ability to use different communication tools.

Improving Legal Research Skills

The ability to hone research skills continuously is the cornerstone of any successful legal professional. Law firms and other organizations value professionals committed to improving their legal research skills.

There is no formula for sharpening your legal research skills. You can, however, start by nurturing the habit of keeping up with the latest developments in the legal sector by reading legal blogs and case laws regularly. Leverage the numerous legal research tools and news portals to learn more about cases and judgments at different court levels. These resources can help you become a thought leader in your practice area.

Regularly reviewing case laws gives you an insight into how respective attorneys formulate and present arguments. It also allows you to learn how judges develop and present justifications for their judgments.

Knowing how to use the numerous legal research tools to fast-track the process is also crucial. Today, you do not have to spend countless hours reading law books and judgments to identify laws and precedents relevant to your case. Instead, you only need to use tools like search engines, legal news portals, blogs, and case law databases to perform more comprehensive research. So, the ability to use numerous legal research tools is a skill that can set you apart from other legal candidates.

Legal Recruiters Can Help Candidates With Adaptability in the Legal Field

Legal recruiters in Illinois are conversant with the job market and regularly keep up with the latest developments. They leverage this knowledge to help candidates navigate the law firm recruitment process and land roles that match their knowledge, skills, and career goals.

Recruiters can offer helpful career advice necessary to pivot and adapt in the ever-changing legal job market. They can, for instance, help you decide whether to explore new practice areas, move to different locations, or switch law firms.

Legal recruiters have transitioned from traditional methods of locating and matching legal candidates with law firms. Rather than delivering application materials in person, recruiters today require candidates to submit them via dedicated online job boards or portals. They are also shifting from in-person to face-to-face interviews via video conferencing platforms.

Legal candidates can use tech tools to communicate with legal recruiters and monitor the progress of their applications. Getting exposed to new technologies right from the recruitment phase allows jobseekers to adapt to the ever-evolving nature of the legal sector.

Legal headhunters at Astor Professional Search are ready to answer your questions and match you with law firms looking for candidates like you. All you need to do is to contact us online or at (312) 781-9000.

author-bio-image author-bio-image
William Sugarman

William Sugarman is the president and founder of Astor Professional Search. He engages in the successful placement of attorneys with local, regional, and international law firms and corporations. Bill’s extensive legal and business development experience give Astor an edge over other legal recruiters nationwide. At the cornerstone of Bill’s strategic philosophy is providing the highest level of personalized attention to his clients and attorney candidates. This is also a key factor that separates Astor from other legal search firms, and it consistently delivers legal placements year after year.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years

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