Researching Law Firms: Knowing Yourself

Researching Law Firms: Knowing Yourself

Researching Law Firms:
Knowing Yourself

Table of Contents

Researching Law Firms: the value of knowing yourself

There is a wealth of information out there on how to research law firms and what you should be considering. Even with all that information at hand, it can be difficult to know where to start and what to focus on. 

In this post, I veer off the beaten path and offer my alternative methodology on researching law firms.

First Things First: Know Yourself 

It can be quite difficult when you’re first starting out, but one of the keys to success that’s not often highlighted is the strength that comes from knowing yourself.

Why is this so important? 

By knowing yourself, your applications will likely be more focused and display a considered approach. I found from my own journey, the more I got to know my goals, wants, skills and strengths etc, it meant that I wasn’t applying for just anything. 

I was able to take the time to reflect and consider whether or not this was something that I really wanted to pursue, or if I was just going through the motions because “you’re supposed to”.

In the midst of completing law school and the pressure of the race to a training contract, it can be all too easy to lose sight of the fact that a training contract can be a long-term decision.  

This isn’t just about getting a training contract. At minimum (and not counting the process of then completing the GDL and/or the LPC), this will be two years of your life signed off. If you end up realising this might not be for you or you end up in a place where you are not happy, two years is a very long time to be unhappy or unsure.

On the other hand, it is also a short time if you love what you are doing, are growing and developing at a firm that aligns with you. 

How Does Knowing Yourself Help with Applications? 

Doing this groundwork, you will not only save yourself a lot of heartache and time – you will be able to focus on the firms that are the right fit for YOU. Trust me, I’ve been through the blanket approach and hoping something sticks method. Sometimes you might get lucky this way but ultimately it’s good to also remember that this is a long term investment and you want to make sure to the best of your ability that it won’t end up being a costly one.

The Journey to Professional Self Discovery

Since graduating from law school in 2016, I have been able to work within the FinTech and LegalTech industries. Through working and networking, I began to discover my strengths and interests as a professional. What I did or didn’t enjoy when it came to working, my working style and the structures I was able to best thrive under. Taking note of this, I was eventually able to tailor my approach and in the end, developed a strong USP and personal brand.

Researching Law Firms: Personal Development Exercise 

This might be a difficult exercise, but take some time to reflect on the following questions, to try and discover what makes you, you and unique?

  • What’s your learning or working style, (what do you or don’t you enjoy about those approaches)? 
  • What do you naturally enjoy doing/what are your interests?  
  • What are your strengths? 
  • What areas of weakness would you like to improve on? 
  • If you knew you could not fail, what would you be doing?
  • Think back to the last time you were most productive. What were you doing and how did you feel?
  • What do you want out of life?
  • Where do you see yourself in the next year, 3 years, 5 years and a decade from now? 

These are some of the questions that I reflected over in various ways over the years following my graduation, and before I finally received my training contract offer in 2019.

It might not be discernible at first why this matters in the context of applying for law firms, but personally, I believe that our jobs are not necessarily meant to be our personality or define us. You are more than just that role.

When doing law applications, it can be very easy to view it as ‘any firm will do as long as I get one’. However, you do have to think, would you be really happy in that place and have you considered what it really means? Outside of work, who will you be?

Especially if you are currently at university stressing about this, I would like to say that you have more than enough time. There’s so much to discover about yourself and as a young working professional. There is no right perfect way of doing this and the firm for you will come at the right time where preparation meets with opportunity.

Applying Self Discovery to Law Firm Applications 

Having done the reflection, the next part involves asking the question, how does knowing all of this about myself fit into my long term plan, values and personal views as I apply to law firms? 

When thinking about and applying the normal research you would’ve usually done, try to identify those firms that align with your values and your message in some way.

Practical Ways To Self Discovery for Law Applications 

The best approach is to always reflect and ask yourself questions. Some of the things I tried to consider during my applications was aligning my strengths and interests and seeing how this would translate to a career in the legal sector in the long term. 

Money aside, because let’s face it who amongst us doesn’t want to be financially secure, these were the factors I considered. 

Size:  

Having worked in two start-ups, I knew I might prefer experiencing a larger firm compared to a smaller firm. Why? I like the structure, variety and the opportunity to be exposed to more complex and international opportunities. It was also more likely that a larger firm would be able to potentially offer the type of work and clients that I might not be exposed to elsewhere. 

Location:

I considered location and how it might fit into where I would like to be in life. This automatically ruled out firms, where I might not have the opportunity to experience an alternative culture. 

Working Style: 

I tried to identify firms that fit into my working style. Some points to consider: 

  • Would you thrive somewhere that was more, meritocratic, collegiate or eat what you kill?
  • Would you do better in a small intake where it might be more competitive or a larger intake that would give you room to be more of yourself? 
  • Do you prefer to be specialised or have a variety of work/tasks?  
  • Domestic or international opportunities – does this fit in with your ideal long term plans e.g if you were asked to relocate aborad would that be appealing? 

Coming Up….

As time went on, these are some of the things I tried to consider when researching law firms. In my next post, I will address the practical part of researching law firms, how to approach the research, organising it and lastly applying it effectively in your applications.

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