It really doesn’t matter if you’re still in law school, recently graduated, undertaking PLT/SLT or have just landed your first major role in the legal profession – there are some basics you should nail in terms of how you represent yourself to others.
As a legal recruiter, I am trained to distinguish between good lawyers and very good lawyers and do so on a daily basis. Here are some tips to clearly communicate to a prospective employer that you’re on the ball:
This is your number one marketing tool. Fail to capture your audience’s attention with your CV and it’s all uphill. Luckily for you, legal CVs are quite formulaic. The best are succinct and highlight key experience well. If you’re about to write your first CV, here’s a good example. It contains all of the relevant headings and information, is free from unnecessary padding, and you can easily rewrite it to incorporate your own information and experiences.
Join up. Nothing says ambition in a junior lawyer like a well presented LinkedIn profile. And it’s so easy to put together. To start, you’ll need a professional head shot (or failing that, a head-shot that looks professional). They aren’t expensive and are well worth the investment. Next, add a brief summary of your experience, your interests in law and your ideal career path (keeping it real). Follow this by adding your work experience and relevant volunteer experience. Now add anything you’ve written and had published that could be relevant to your career in law. Use your discretion when connecting and recognise that your university friends will usually be a great source of networks in the years ahead.
We’ve all done it. Pop your name into Google and check the result. If you see any images of yourself that are even slightly offensive from your Facebook account rethink your Facebook security settings. You can also check the result of your name and the word “lawyer” as you can be sure prospective employers will. Also, anything that’s been written about you that’s negative won’t look good. Being a legal recruiter, I google every lawyer that I come into contact with. Firms expect it, and for good reason.
Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
Ensure your privacy settings are tight given your professional reputation is at stake. The disciplinary consequences at work for a non-work related post or tweet is an evolving area of the law, and you should be careful.
This is so important. Get this right and you’ll communicate a sense of confidence and instil a perception of credibility that won’t otherwise be there. While some firms and other work environments have relaxed their policy regarding dress-code (very casual Fridays come to mind), dressing appropriately will always serve you well. Risk over-dressing if you are not sure. This is particularly important in the early stages of your career when longstanding perceptions are made.
Body language and attitude
While I could go on forever here, your body language and attitude is just as important as your personal presentation. We all know about the fierce competition between law graduates for the relatively few junior roles out there. Remember to smile and maintain appropriate eye contact. Confident (not arrogant) and sincere body language, coupled with a determined and friendly attitude will certainly help you on your way.