Law student, graduate or junior lawyer – choosing the right person for the job

By Lucy Kenny, Employability Specialist for The University of Queensland TC Beirne School of Law |15 September 2015


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Recruitment is a significant investment of time and money, and the wrong decision can be costly.  

In these competitive times when the market is flooded with law students looking for valuable work experience, graduates looking for a foot in the door, and young lawyers looking for qualified positions - how do you choose the best candidate for the job and for your organisation?

It can be a hard decision based on a resume, cover letter and even an interview. 

An ideal scenario is to take on someone of whom you have prior experience, and can be confident of their suitability.  But if that is not possible, I recommend taking a holistic approach to selecting candidates, bearing in mind the following points:

  1. Do their academic grades demonstrate a good work ethic and appropriate level of achievement?
  2. Do you think their personality will be a good fit for the team and firm culture?
  3. Work experience – have they demonstrated an ability to juggle the competing priorities of work and study?
  4. Do they have the professional skills to deal appropriately with and instill confidence in your clients?
  5. Do they demonstrate an industry awareness and ability to take a commercial and practical approach to solving legal problems?
  6. Have they shown an interest in subjects or practice areas that would be helpful for the role?
  7. Are you confident that they have made a considered choice in applying for the job, and are likely to have a commitment to it which will justify your investment in them?

If selecting one person who is right for the job isn’t an obvious decision after an initial round of interviews, consider how you could gain greater familiarity with the top candidates to confirm their suitability for the role and the organisation. Maybe a second round interview with different people from the firm would help, possibly involving a practical task to help assess their skills.  Alternatively, organise a casual coffee between them and some junior colleagues.

The University of Queensland’s Faculty of Business, Economics and Law has a Student Employability Team to ensure our graduates are job-ready.  I have ten years’ experience as a lawyer in London and Brisbane and my role at UQ is dedicated to working with our law students and their potential employers.

I am happy to discuss your recruitment needs and can be contacted on (07) 3346 9259 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Law student, graduate or junior lawyer – choosing the right person for the job
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