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June 27, 2013

King’s College research reveals what law firms want from graduates

Kings College LondonNew research conducted by King’s College London in partnership with The Times has revealed the most prized skills and competencies law firms seek in graduates.

The research, which was conducted with 20 leading City and national law firms, involved interviews with partners and recruitment personnel as well as a follow-up survey, and provides invaluable advice for graduates planning to build a legal career.

Out of 18 different skills, competencies and attributes, the firms ranked ‘a strong academic background’ as the most important.

“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.

‘Global mindset’, ‘commercial awareness’ and ‘intellectual rigour’ also ranked among the most highly rated attributes. All the firms who responded to the survey said they appreciated candidates with a ‘global mindset’ and valued applicants who could show an understanding of working with lawyers from multiple jurisdictions and trying to solve global problems with cross-jurisdictional legal, social, economic, political and cultural knowledge and sensitivity.

However, a ‘global mindset’ does not necessarily mean a willingness to travel. 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.’

Many of the research respondents confirmed that law is now more competitive than ever, with more postgraduate and international students applying. Other attributes the law firms seek are confident candidates who have courage in their own convictions. They also seek candidates with commercial knowledge and curiosity, who take an analytical approach to problem-solving.

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. The Dickson Poon School of Law is at the heart of ‘legal London’ and 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.’

Find out more about The Dickson Poon School of Law at King's College London.

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Content added on 27th June 2013.

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