J. Nick Augustine J.D. is the principal of ALR/PRA, Inc., a full service law practice management agency. Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition in public relations and marketing. Nick also shares recruiting and staffing experience and tips for legal job seekers.
When presenting their talents to potential employers, Attorneys in transition should identify and highlight past relevant skills sets. Last week I volunteered to answer questions at the Law Practice Management table for ABA Law Day at a local law school. I asked a student about her experience prior to law school. She told me she worked in sales but had taken that off her resume!
Sales and marketing backgrounds are very important in today’s legal job market. If I were a hiring partner, I would strongly consider a candidate who submitted a resume highlighting sales skills. Client generation in law is no different from other industries.
Whether you are selling insurance or high-end transactional or litigation services, people are going to hire attorneys with the appropriate skill sets to get the job done. Very often, the client needs to be convinced your law firm is the right one. If skill and practical understanding are lacking, the likelihood of attracting and signing new clients drops. Be able to sell it!
Skill and shrewdness accompany reputation. A solid reputation and referral system are vital to client engagement. In an interview setting, it cannot hurt to offer some credible references that can strengthen your candidacy for a certain position.
A military background is also favorable to a hiring partner. Attorneys in different stages of their career play different roles and need to be ready to assume a leadership or subordinate position depending on the nature of the work setting. Additionally, past military experience prepares attorneys for those strategic activities – think about litigation.
Humility, frequently an afterthought for most young attorneys, can be a valuable asset. Out of law school for 10 years, I still notice some of my peers dropping the typical attorney attitude; trying too hard to be perceived as hyper-professional and ultimately ethical. Too often, the result is alienation from other lawyers, professionals and friends who find such an individual overbearing and stressful.
Leadership skills in management settings are also very marketable. If you tell the hiring partner you managed a chain of fast food restaurants in college, and you just demonstrated the skills needed to supervise paralegals and law clerks.
At the end of the day, law is a service profession. Many overlooked qualities you can highlight could make you a more attractive hire. Remember, law review and moot court are not the sole indicators of success.