Skills Every Law Student Needs on Their C.V.
From the outset, a CV is emphasized throughout law school as one of the most critical aspects to gaining employment. CVs are typically a firm’s first contact with a candidate, and usually the main source of information used to weed out unsuccessful applicants.
A short and sweet version, a CV document allows you to present yourself as a qualified candidate with summarised points of your experience, skills, and education tailored to your desired firm. Based on your CV alone, you can be called for an interview. This might seem like a tough task, but I assure you, there are identifiable trends in the legal industry that clue candidates in to what firms are looking for. Below are five skills and qualities that I believe hiring managers look for in a candidate’s application:
Organization. It is the ability to create structure and order in an environment. The 4 types of organisation you can showcase throughout your CV are internal organization; systematic planning and scheduling, external organization; demonstrating how you deal with rigid timelines, your ability to prioritize your workload, and last is physical organization on how you structure your physical presentation and workspace. With simple and specific points, you can use your past work experience to convey to future employers your organisational abilities.
Communication. More specifically, your capability to communicate through writing and orally in a clear and concise manner. As you cannot know everything in a new environment, the hiring manager wants to see if you are teachable. Your level of proficiency at communication is a direct reflection of your listening skills. This can be demonstrated throughout your CV by limiting errors and contradictory sentences. Ensure that as you fill out your application, any additional answers to questions they may ask refer back to your CV, so they don’t feel like your CV was written by two different individuals.
Teamwork. A necessary skill in any workplace because in most cases, you will be working with others, if not colleagues, then clients. The hiring manager will want to see how you can work within a group. Demonstrate reliability, punctuality, respect for others, as well as conflict management by highlighting your past teamwork experiences and specific scenarios where you solved a problem perhaps, collaboratively.
Emotional intelligence. Most people do not think of this when drafting their CV, but at its core, this is what every lawyer needs. Working in a high-stress environment takes a toll on our bodies and minds, employers want a candidate who can control disruptive and impulsive moods. This skill also ties into relationship building and networking, essentially the ability to make people feel comfortable (i.e., you need to read the room). This does not point to extroversion. It means people think that they can trust you and that you are a friendly person, someone that they can see themselves working with.
Stress management. A skill that we all have at this point (or will eventually). This skill centers on your time management and work-life balance. Stress is something that occurs naturally in every person. It’s not to be avoided; however, high-stress levels are not healthy. Candidates should demonstrate this by not being heavy-handed with their extracurriculars and choosing those curricular activities you find are most relevant. You may want to highlight that you enjoy a sport or traveling, just to showcase your life outside of law school.
There you have 5 skills that you need on your CV, which I believe to be key essentials to take note of. Remember, your success at obtaining interviews is not a reflection of your lack of skill. The current pandemic has gotten in the way of many promising opportunities to learn more and grow more as law students. We cannot let it stop us from learning, interacting with others, and taking chances on new opportunities, while abiding by NHS guidelines. So, spruce up your CV, and send in that application that you’ve been meaning to submit for ages; it’s now or never.
By: Maria Kolusade, 1st Year Law Student, Media and Advertisement Manager and Publisher