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How graduates can get a job in the legal industry
28th September 2016
This year, many of Britain’s large employers have scaled back their graduate recruitment plans and this resulted in vacancies for top companies falling.
According to an article on the Financial Times, the number of graduate vacancies offered by top companies in the UK has dropped by 8 per cent compared to the previous year, and many experts believe the news to be a direct effect of the UK’s decision to leave the EU in June.
If you are a graduate and are looking for an in-house legal job or another legal position, then read on to see how you can improve your chances.
Work in legal support or as a paralegal
Peters & Peters recommends working in a business support role or as a paralegal. This will help you gain great experience and will increase your chances of landing your dream job.
Peters & Peters is a leading UK law firm that specialises in business crime, commercial litigation, civil fraud, corporate compliance and asset tracing and recovery. Sue Bachorski, who is head of HR at Peters & Peters, said, “As a specialist legal business, covering ‘Business Crime’ & Commercial Litigation/International Civil Fraud, we employ people who really want to do this sort of work and want to develop a long-term career here.
“Since our work is so specialised it can be difficult to gain significant knowledge or experience before joining us and a stint in a business support role or as a paralegal can prove invaluable for aspiring trainees. In such a competitive market, I always recommend that graduates consider legal support, paralegal or research work in order to gain practical skills, learn about an area of law, the culture of a firm and to make themselves more appealing as future trainee candidates.”
Write a great cover letter
As a graduate you might well find writing a cover letter for your first job very difficult, but a well-written cover letter is vital at the application stage.
You can find out more in our article about writing a cover letter, covering what techniques generally work and which ones do not.
The Undercover Recruiter, a recruitment and career blog, also believes it is vital to write a cover letter that stands out from the rest.
They suggest the following tips:
- Research the job - you have to know the job you are applying for inside out.
- Do a personal inventory - list out all your skills, experiences, and personal qualities that are relevant to the job.
- Reference the job position – in the first paragraph of your cover letter, reference the job position for which you are applying.
- Use the right format - it’s a good idea to make your cover letter scan-able by using short paragraphs and a clear structure.
- Show them what you’re made of – highlight any awards you have won or volunteer projects you have been involved in.
- Make your closing strong - you want the closing paragraph of your cover letter to be one of the strongest parts of the cover letter so that you leave a lasting impression on the recruiter.
Use the power of social media
The likes of LinkedIn and Twitter can be used to find a job and by joining in discussions on Twitter this will make your name familiar to employers.
In an article on the Guardian, Paul Young, who is the company director of Grad-Careers Ltd, said, “If you want to be sought out by head-hunters, the most likely site to be found on is LinkedIn. Social networks are good for networking but they come with a risk of what you put on them and whether employers will see them."
Just make sure your social media profile is clean and that there is nothing on the platforms that could put potential employers off hiring you.
Join a recruitment agency
Recruitment agencies help fill a company’s vacancy with a candidate that they think are a perfect fit, meaning they are great to have on your side as they want to get you a job almost as much as you do!
Specialist legal recruitment agencies will have contacts to a range of top firms and can easily put you in touch with global and national firms. This will inevitably increase the chances of you getting a job at a Magic Circle firm.
Another great way a graduate can get a job is to take a legal apprenticeship as many law firms and organisations offer apprenticeship schemes.
Apprenticeships in the legal sector are gaining momentum and in most cases an apprentice is an individual who will join a law firm either straight from school or after attending university to work in a role similar to that of a paralegal.
Apprentices will receive on-the-job training that will take them towards earning a formal qualification as a legal executive through the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.
The number of law firms offering apprenticeships is on the rise and this has become a hugely popular way for graduates to get a foot on the ladder for their future law career.
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