5 Steps to Having the Right Personality for a Legal Career

The path to a fulfilling legal career is laden with challenges, but with the right attitude and personality, you can stand out from the rest of the pack. Finishing law school can be gruelling with hours of research and reviews expected of students on a weekly basis. If you apply the same amount of effort into honing your character, your skills will definitely be recognised and hiring managers will take note.

You can take tests and read about specific subjects if your goal is to stock up on skills and knowledge. However, improving your personality entails a more dedicated approach in order to experience the change which can help your career progression. It all starts with learning more about yourself and how to deal with what you discover.

Key Takeaways:
• Address areas of weakness and continue to work on them – self-development it key
• Learn to be patient with people from all walks of life
• Knowledge and expertise can only get you so far – personality and charisma is important
• You can never prepare TOO MUCH for an interview.

1. Identify What Ticks You Off

In law firms, the workforce is often made up of different personalities and cultures, all having unique backgrounds and stories that eventually led them to the company. Some people assume that studying the eccentricities of other people should be prioritised. However, the fact remains that if you don’t understand yourself fully, it’s harder to relate well to your colleagues. The first step is to prepare yourself so that you’re always in a position and mindset that can adjust to various circumstances and situations.

Do you remember the last time you got angry? What words and subjects do you consider offensive and annoying? These are questions you need to answer truthfully and whole heartedly. It will give you an insight on how to address certain conversations and scenarios you may not be comfortable with.

2. The Value of Patience

Part of this journey to a new you is knowing how to deal with difficult partners or teammates in a department. Even paralegal interviews almost always include questions wherein you are asked how you respond to pressure or stressful situations. In your day-to-day functions as a lawyer, you’ll always be faced with difficult choices regarding strategy and the best way to present your case. Once you are able to imbibe patience and apply it to your legal tasks, you can utilise your brain to its full capacity.

3. Be Observant

EJ Legal shares some insights on how to avoid misconceptions and veer away from stereotypes:
“Personality and cultural fit is all important. People generally only do business with people they respect or get along with, and there is no shortage of alternatives if a client wishes to take their business elsewhere, so it is fundamentally important that partners consider any new addition to the team to be someone that represents them well in the market place.

A high level of attrition is never a great trait, so it is crucial that a new joiner is seen as someone that will fit in well, and will not end up leaving in the near future, or cause others in the team to become unsettled.”- John Kenney, EJ Legal Recruitment Consultant

4. Adapt and Adjust

More often than not, an employer is more interested in outgoing, confident candidates with good interpersonal skills and a certain level of ambition -that is not to say that outspoken or arrogant candidates will necessarily go down well.

Furthermore, some partners may wish to hire in their own image, and others may wish to recruit somebody with complementary skills. A strong willed partner may want someone with enough resilience to hold their own, or on the other hand they may prefer someone that can be moulded more easily, for example. Ask your recruiter their opinion before any interview, and also gauge from your meeting how much you should be mirroring the partner, and how much you should be exhibiting supplementary traits.

5. Embrace your Improvement

There is no substitute for experience. Personality alone will not enable you to secure an interview or job for which you simply are not qualified. But even if you are the best person for the job on paper, in this market you will most likely be up against a series of others who are capable of doing this job. Who ultimately receives a job offer may then boil down to personality fit: Who do they want to work with, day in, day out? Whose attitude lends the impression that they may be the future of this department?

John Kenney says “If a candidate is more reserved, then they will perform better and speak with greater confidence if they are well-prepared for the interview. This improved performance and more assured fluency will help to minimise the impression that the candidate is too shy for the rigours of the job.”

Personality is important for in-house positions. Often you will be working across all areas of a business and this is where your character counts. There needs to be a fine balance of professionalism in order to communicate at all levels across the business. Being reserved and shy shouldn’t prevent candidates from shining at interviews. It takes practice and the right opportunity. Just relax and be yourself. When you have finally developed the right personality, the call back may just be a formality for your job application.

For more legal job interview tips, watch this 6 minute video from Bloomberg Law.

Bryan Ceguerra writes on behalf of EJ Legal, a British Company specialising in Legal Recruitment.

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One Comment

  1. Jenny @ Sommerfeld-Majka says:

    I agreed with you that the path of the fulfilling a legal career is very challenging. Your 5 steps help us to make our path smoother.

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