Did you miss the OCP’s Program on Monday entitled The View from the Hiring Chair: What Makes Hiring Attorneys Extend an Offer? The panel discussion covered four general topics: Legal Skills; Professional Skills; Resumes and Cover Letters; and Interviewing. If you were unable to attend, we’ll provide a few high level quick take-away tips here.
When it comes to Legal Skills, the speakers all agreed that research, writing, and clear communication are crucial. Seek out opportunities in law school to develop and practice these skills – whether through moot court, mock trial, externships, clinics, or other skills-based courses. Intellectual curiosity is important as well – ask questions, be open to learning about various issue areas and types of practice, and be a lifetime learner.
Professional Skills are important, too! Details like looking an interviewer in the eye, dressing professionally, and having a good attitude stand out when employers make hiring decisions. Show enthusiasm, remember basic etiquette (such as hand written thank you notes), and know how to tell your story. Notably, all of the speakers agreed that important and relevant professional skills can be demonstrated by non-legal work experience prior to enrolling in law school. Don’t discount the value of your past experience and remember that it can show that you have a strong work ethic, good interpersonal skills, and the ability to manage your time.
When it comes to your Resume and Cover Letter, there’s no flexibility – the documents must be perfect. There cannot be mistakes; mistakes in legal practice affect people’s lives and businesses – and cost money. Be detail-oriented, and remember that the visual appearance of your documents matters just as much as the substance. Fancy fonts, small type, and squeezing as much as possible on the page are not preferred. You must think critically about what is relevant to the employer in question and present documents that demonstrate you have those skills.
Lastly, with Interviews remember that the questions you ask as the interviewee are almost as important as the way in which you answer the questions asked of you. Ask questions that show that you are interested in the position, that you can see yourself in the position, and that you care about/are enthusiastic about the position. Be authentic.
These are just the highlights! Be sure to stop by the OCP to talk in more detail about what you missed.