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-KINGS COLLEGE LONDON -Firms reveal sought-after competencies in law graduates.

Global Banking News-May 24, 2013--KINGS COLLEGE LONDON -Firms reveal sought-after competencies in law graduates(C)2013 ENPublishing -

ENP Newswire - 24 May 2013

Release date- 23052013 - Law firms rate 'global mindset', 'commercial awareness' and 'intellectual rigour' as highly prized competencies in graduates, finds new research conducted by King's College London in partnership with The Times.

Research with 20 leading City and national Law firms has revealed the skills and competencies most sought by legal employers and provides invaluable advice for graduates hoping to follow a legal career. The research is published in today's Student LAW supplement of The Times.

During interviews with partners and recruitment personnel and through a follow-up survey, Law firms reiterated that recruitment of trainees was taken very seriously with many seeing it as a long term investment. They confirmed that it was a highly competitive market with more postgraduate and international students applying.

Professor David Caron, Dean of The Dickson Poon School of Law at King's, said: 'I am delighted that our research into what Law firms really want from graduates has provided such clear insight and helpful guidance for students considering a career in Law. At the heart of 'legal London' The Dickson Poon School of Law is uniquely placed to interact regularly with the top Law firms in London and globally. The School's focus on transnational law - applying law across jurisdictions - positions us well to respond to the needs of employers.'

All firms who responded to the survey (18/18) appreciated candidates with a 'global mindset'. Firms valued applicants who could show an understanding of what it would be like actively working with lawyers from multiple jurisdictions and trying to solve global problems with cross-jurisdictional legal, social, economic, political and cultural knowledge and sensitivity.

A 'global mindset' does not mean a willingness to travel. However, Philippa Crompton, HR Manager, Covington & Burling LLP, explained: 'While we do not select based purely on language skills, their importance is increasing. For international clients there is a growing need for documents to be produced in, or translated from, local languages into English and vice versa.'

Highlighting some of the work undertaken by her team at King's, Laura Mackenzie, Head of the Careers & Employability Service, said: 'Our approach is to work with students to help them to recognise their unique potential and confidently pursue their individual goals. Our Law Career Development programmes are co-hosted by law firms and we are soon launching our Law at Work programme. Attendance at the Law Careers Fair at King's increases year on year - last year 69 firms were represented, providing our students with real opportunities to make a good first impression and find out more about the individual character of different firms.'

Partners are specifically looking out for confident candidates who can use their commercial knowledge and curiosity to take an analytical approach to problem-solving, weighing up the pros and cons of an argument and importantly having courage in their own convictions to come down on one side of the fence when asked to.

From a choice of 18 different skills, competencies and attributes, strong academic background was ranked as the most important by the firms. 'Consistent academics are important and universities would be well advised to alert students to the fact that first year grades are considered very seriously,' said Ben Perry, Partner, Sullivan & Cromwell.

Firms reported that they used a range of different recruitment processes from a classic CV, cover letter and an interview, through to detailed online applications, online tests and assessment centres, as well as combinations of the two approaches. They provided feedback on the applications they typically receive and a list of 'Do's and Don'ts' for graduates at both application and interview stage.

'Candidates need to focus their efforts on the application part of the process first and foremost, as this is statistically the hardest hurdle to cross, yet they often spend more time preparing for the interview,' said Sarah Cockburn, Graduate Recruitment Manager, Allen & Overy.

Poor attention to detail was the most common complaint of those reading the applications. Basic spelling and grammar errors, getting the firm name wrong, talking about practice areas that the London office does not cover - all were sure fire ways to go into the 'no' pile, the interviewees confirmed.

Over and above poor attention to detail, the firms noted a general inability to write well, with candidates failing to use correct English, or structuring answers poorly or not being concise. Furthermore, firms reported that candidates now can be so keen to tick boxes that their applications can seem bland and fail to stand out.

Barry Fishley, Partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, said firms want to see personality in interviewees. 'We do not want people to tell us what they think we want to hear, we want them to be their authentic selves and show their personality. They need to have the confidence and maturity to give refreshing, sometimes even unorthodox, answers.'

King's Legal Careers Week invites Law firms to work directly with law students to enable them to understand the rigour required in submitting carefully crafted, thoughtful and individual applications. The Law Careers Development Programmes continue throughout the year.

Several firms noted that their vacation scheme was a fast track to the training contract and said they wanted to recruit more or solely from this avenue in the future. Time spent with the firm during those 2-3 weeks offered an invaluable insight into what it was like to be a lawyer at that firm.

'We are looking for potential partners of the future, not candidates who will just qualify with us. Around half of our current London partners trained with the Firm,' said David Smith, Recruitment Partner, Jones Day, London.

Almost all firms (16/19 survey respondents) said that they wanted candidates to show openness and flexibility when approaching their training contracts; a dogmatic desire to work in one area before they had experienced it could point to a lack of maturity, judgement and commercial awareness and applicants need to understand they must be flexible to meet business needs.

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Publication:Global Banking News (GBN)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 24, 2013
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