Don’t judge a book by its cover. Unfortunately, with hundreds of law students flooding the market, grades are usually the first indicator that law firms use to shortlist their candidates.
Adopting smart study habits is very important. Ask your seniors for advice. Often, it is about having the correct mindset and determination to stick to a study schedule. Learn to understand (not just memorize or regurgitate), and enjoy the process. If you have a process-oriented mindset, results will follow.
2. Good Attitude
Much of what you learn at school will not be directly relevant to practice. So what partners look for in a potential trainee is the right attitude.
How do you demonstrate this? The devil lies in the details. Partners want someone who is able to take instruction and to be able to complete tasks effectively without excessive guidance. In every step of the application, make sure you are paying attention to the details, and have ample preparation beforehand so you are not scrambling. If you can’t make an application deadline, how will you perform under the pressure of court deadlines? If your CV and cover letter have typographical errors, what does this show about your potential as a corporate lawyer?
3. Mistakes are made in haste
By having ample preparation, and proper time management skills, you should get your applications in as early as possible. Early bird catches the worm. Nowadays, it is rare to have a moratorium for NUS/SMU students, so if it’s possible, just be kiasu and apply early. Of course, if your last semester grades were less than ideal, it may be better to wait and apply next semester since poor grades can mean not getting shortlisted especially for big firms.
This also relates to the interview. A lot of the times, the interview is scheduled very close to when HR contacts you, and you don’t have much time to prepare. By preparing beforehand, you can avoid the last minute scramble and not having the requisite preparation to seal the deal.
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4. All-rounded Candidate
Finally, law firms look for the right fit. Being good on paper is one thing, being a right fit for the firm culture is even more important. This is why the interview is the final stage, and the ultimate clincher for the internship / training contract.
Be prepared and be yourself. Be confident in your accomplishments but also humble in what you don’t know. It is also always good to broaden your horizons. A mature individual who can handle themselves professionally is a definite plus for big firms and international firms. Go on student exchange abroad, volunteer, or embark on a solo backpacking trip. Everything you experience can help you, and as you grow as a person, you will be in a better place to secure the job of your dreams.
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