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Will you be my Valentine? Three ways to virtually win over law firms

Will you be my Valentine? Three ways to virtually win over law firms

Olivia Atkinson

15/02/2021

This month, love is in the air, yet the inevitable deadlines for training contracts and vacation schemes are fast approaching. Junior lawyers and students often manifest a love-hate relationship with the application process for any role. In this article I hope to provide some reassurance that there are several factors that you can control in that process, without sending chocolates and flowers (save those for your actual loved ones!). 

Aim

Be like cupid and fire those arrows selectively. As a starting point, take a walk through LCN’s Training contract search to find out more about those firms that catch your eye. Just type in the name of the firm, the region you would like to live and work in, your starting salary expectations and your preferred starting year. Once you have narrowed it down to a definitive list, you can conduct more in-depth research on those firm’s profiles. For more information on how to effectively research law firms, see LCN’s dedicated feature, which includes recommendations for podcasts, blogs and other invaluable tools. You will have a higher chance of succeeding and impressing if:

  1. you have deliberately chosen and applied to the firms you are attracted to; and
  2. you have spent time on those initial investigations. 

Your desired destination is just a click away; use your resources to your advantage and don’t assume that, for example, all firms are ‘full service’ or have a department that you want to work in. Save time (and blushing) and prepare for that interview date like it was your wedding day.

Communication and presentation

Killing two (love) birds with one stone – how you present yourself and how you communicate that version of yourself go hand in hand. Whether you are interviewing for a vacation scheme via Zoom or attending an assessment centre for a training contract over Teams, the same rules apply on the virtual platform as they do in person. Open body language invites a more positive reaction from an audience, so don’t cross your arms or hunch your shoulders, and keep your hands still and positioned in your lap while listening to others.

In an eye-opening article about how to be a better communicator, Abhimanyu Das explains that mapping out and matching your gestures to your words is a great way to control your body language (and those nervous jitters): "Humans are visual creatures, and movement will arouse an audience’s attention. But do not abuse this tendency".

If you have been tasked with a presentation, use your hands to explain or illustrate the content. This can be a good way to keep your audience engaged and at the same time show that you are passionate about the topic. But as Das warns, movement can become a bad habit and result in distraction rather than effective interaction, so be selective. Instead of leaving it to chance, practise giving your presentation or answering some questions in front of the mirror or record yourself and then watch the playback as if you were the interviewer. Then, if you can, gather your own real life audience. Practise with your household bubble and discuss your actions and movements with them. Usually, a second pair of eyes will notice the details you didn’t. 

The more you can get comfortable with how your movements support and reinforce your words, the more you can control your gestures and ensure that they are improving your presentation, rather than hindering it.   

Smile

When you come into (digital) contact with your chosen firm, be it human resources or a panel of partners, it is important to leave a positive and long-lasting impression. This applies the first time you introduce yourself and every time after that. One of the simplest and most meaningful ways to do this is to smile often. In the flow of an interview conversation, this is made 10 times easier if you are prepared to discuss something that makes you feel inspired or happy. All the things that ordinarily act as your relaxants will reduce the stress and tension of the interview. This might be a hobby or a book you recently read and enjoyed, or even the latest film you watched. These are some of the typical ‘extra-curricular’ topics that recruiters and interviewers often raise. This isn’t to catch you out or trip you up but to understand the person beneath the two-dimensional academics and practical work experience. Open a window into your personal life and show that you are a human being with interests aside from law and smile because (presumably) you’re happy to be there! 

Final words

See those love letters soar into your inbox when you prepare, research and communicate to the best of your ability. Show your chosen firm that you are invested in its work, demonstrate your own interests and passions, improve your presentation skills and smile (but not in a creepy way...).