Graduates of legal schools work in a wide variety of fields, including family law, technology law, and the front lines of social justice. Some people opt to never practise law.
Many people pursuing legal careers in the private sector aspire to work for a multinational law firm representing high-profile clients with complex legal problems. It might be very difficult to find a job with a law practise on campus. Many law students put in a lot of effort to get the chance to stand out as a summer associate at a law firm.
Raj Shah is a partner at DLA Piper, a multi-national law practise with over 4,000 attorneys practising in over 40 nations. Shah is the chair of DLA Piper’s Chicago lawsuits practise and the Partnership Nominations Committee in addition to representing prestigious corporations in complicated lawsuits.
In his interview with U.S. News, Shah, who is the co-national hiring partner for associates, offers advise to prospective attorneys who are thinking about working for a big legal firm. For length and clarity, the following interview has been condensed.
Q: What qualities do legal companies like DLA Piper look for when hiring law students? Is there anything that applicants omit far too frequently?
We place a lot of emphasis on intellectual curiosity, or the general willingness and excitement to learn about the client, its corporate aims and objectives, and the issue at hand.
The majority of candidates are skilled with the law and can apply it correctly, yet frequently lawyers work in grey regions where the solutions aren’t obvious. We are looking for future solicitors who can become authorities on their customers’ missions and markets in order to provide them with individualised, comprehensive guidance. Are you able to find creative answers to problems?
Of course, we also consider a candidate’s commitment to the law, resiliency in the face of adversity, and capacity for success. Additionally important is having great teamwork skills.
Q: What can a prospective lawyer do to best position oneself to join a major firm like yours before law school, while in college, or in the workforce?
It’s critical to stress that there is no simple, universal strategy for becoming a great lawyer. Of course, your grades and experience are crucial success markers, but success isn’t just determined by your employment history or educational background. We value various viewpoints and life experiences. The ability to apply what you have learned to your craft is more crucial than whether you studied maths or art history. Showcase how your special combination of abilities and expertise translates into a lucrative legal profession.
Q: Do you have any guidance for candidates who are concerned that they won’t fit the mould of a typical “big firm” lawyer?
There is no one way to get a position at a big company, so don’t worry if you feel like you’ve had a unique road to get here. You might be able to offer people a fresh viewpoint that they don’t have. Be your true self and demonstrate how you can improve the company’s culture.
Q: Although many law school applicants are aware that positions at famous law firms are sought after and competitive, they have also heard gruesome tales about the obligations and drawbacks of the work. What advise would you provide to someone who isn’t sure if working in a prestigious legal firm is the correct move for them?
Treating all large law firms equally is the biggest error a candidate can make. Do your research on a company and go beyond historical data, which only reveals a company’s past and not its future.
Speak to your peers or former employees who interned or worked there. Bring interview preparation materials and inquiries related to your professional goals. Does the firm, for instance, concentrate on practise areas, industries, or regions that fit your objectives? How do team members communicate with one another when official mentoring programmes are not in place? Does the company’s culture match your aspirations for the future? A company of any size will be the ideal fit for you based on several intangible factors.
The only objective shouldn’t be to work at a “prestigious” big legal firm. The objective should be to choose a location where you can learn, engage in rewarding work, and advance your career over the long term, regardless of whether you decide to stay at the firm or go on to another area of law.
Q: What new legal trends should someone who wants to have a successful legal career in the long run take into account?
Artificial intelligence is currently a major topic of discussion when it comes to advancements in the legal industry. We’re implementing AI technologies that will improve the calibre and timeliness of the services our lawyers offer as part of our commitment to properly embracing change.
Instead than replacing our work, AI will improve it. In fact, as AI begins to replace some of the more research-focused aspects of our professions, having good legal analysis, writing, organisation, and oral advocacy skills will become even more crucial.
While it’s crucial to grasp how AI will change our industry, applicants shouldn’t lose sight of the intelligence, judgement, and judgement that will always be necessary.
Q: Finally, more law schools are reinstituting interviews as a part of the admissions procedure, either in person or using pre-recorded questions. Do you have any interview tips for candidates for the legal profession as someone who has undoubtedly taken part in several interviews on both sides?
If you’ve done your homework, a live interview should be a welcome chance for you to stand out and establish a rapport with your interviewers. Utilise the interview as a chance to demonstrate some of the soft talents I mentioned as well as your enthusiasm for the industry. Additionally, take advantage of the opportunity to learn and ask insightful questions that will help you determine the best fit for your future.