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Top 5 tips of Getting into Top Law Firms in Nigeria (Post NYSC} II

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By Olukayode Olugbemi, Esq.

So a while back, I promised to do a piece on how to get into top-tier firms post NYSC or even how to successfully change jobs. Apologies for the delay but let’s shoot.

There are many challenges to getting into top law firms or even getting into a bigger workplace. Let’s identify these challenges and how to solve them and then we can see how to get in. While this piece can work for everyone, my primary focus will be on lawyers and how to get into the top law firms.

Challenge Number 1: Grades

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Top law firms want a mix of a minimum of 2.1 (University and Law School) or some accept the mix of 2.1 and 2.2 (easily wearing out since its getting easier to have 1st class and 2.1 in law school nowadays). The challenge is, you might not have had either of these grades.

Challenge Number 2: Area of Practice

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Top law firms focus on niche practice areas which you generally may not have had experience in – Banking and Finance, Private Equity, Mergers & Acquisition et al but all you know about law is litigation and civil procedure rules.

Challenge Number 3: You don’t know anyone to help or put in a word

These three challenges are the key things and the biggest cause of self-doubt. Once or twice, I have had to encourage friends to apply to roles and these factors play out. The bold ones after some encouragement try out and they get the roles.

Let’s address them, shall we?

The Tips

1. Curriculum Vitae (CV)

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The biggest obstacle to anyone, especially lawyers, is the type of CV they send after NYSC. The work experience section of a Post-NYSC CV should be achievement based and not just listing the firm that you have worked at. See the below:

CV 1

Associate

Butiku LP

Role

Legal drafting

Court Appearance

Case strategy preparation

 

CV 2

Associate

Butiku LP

Role:

  1. Part of the team that advised in the recovery of the N100,000,000 debt owed to a multinational company in Nigeria
  2. Part of the team advising on a large land Portfolio in Ibeju-Lekki
  3. Co-led the team that advised XXX and Co on its corporate restructuring.

If you were the HR Manager, which of the CVs will attract you and will get your invitation? CV 1 or 2?

I guess you’d go with 2.

2. Personal Efforts

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Additionally, you have only done litigation all your life but this top firm is best known for its niche in Finance Practice. Simple, while you are preparing to apply, read up on Finance as much as you can. If possible, write one or two articles on it. The articles might be basic but still write them. Don’t just write them and keep them on your laptop, upload them- LinkedIn (tag as many of the practitioners in that field). If possible, send the articles to global legal journals, let them reject it but you have their acknowledgment email, good for you.

So when you get to apply for a Finance Associate role in a top firm, your CV has “The legal implication of the CBN’s Circular on Non-Dollarisation of the economy”. If your CV gets to a Partner, that partner would be interested in your thoughts and that’s a good thing.

So for whatever you lack in capacity due to your present job, make up for it by your private efforts. Study, do some research, be up to date. If you are serious about getting into the top firms or companies and you don’t have a good LinkedIn presence, that’s not too good.

3. Social Media/LinkedIn

Social_Media_Marketing_Strategy

One, the HR managers of these top firms are also on LinkedIn, the partners of these firms are on LinkedIn. I recall a friend who had a Partner of a top law firm chase her ‘cos she had seen the girl’s activities and achievements on LinkedIn. For the lady, she only needed to impress at the interview and she’d get the job. Guess what, she had multiple offers from top firms. Again, when your LinkedIn is properly optimized with meaningful content on law, the HR Manager of a firm may take a look at your profile and invite you for a test.

At other times, it’s those who you get to connect with and may share useful information about the firm to you.

4. Socialize

Edward_Brooke,_Mary_Albert,_and_other_people_socializing_in_a_large_room_during_a_trip_to_England

Off LinkedIn, you can’t be looking to move to a top firm and you won’t keep in touch with some partners that you know in the top firms. Once in a while, check up on them, propose to meet up, catch a drink with them, they are a lot more relaxed and can link you up with friends if their firm isn’t recruiting at the moment.

5. Self-Confidence

Mario_Balotelli_(15440231808)_(cropped)

The second most important tool here is your self-confidence and knowledge. If you do all these and you are not knowledgeable or confident, you will flop at the interview and you won’t get it. When you have all these, pray too. It works.

Remember, achievement based CV wipes off your pass in law school and maybe age issues. Do all you can, renew your vigour to get into top firms. There is almost always a space to be filled in top firms, there just aren’t many good candidates to fill those roles.

Ask those working in the top firms, there are roles that haven’t been filled for months, some years. People working in top firms always get poached, either by the clients of those top firms or people who heard of their exploits. Some move abroad, some start their own firm

So there’s always space. The question is, are you applying correctly?

________________________________________

Featured image by –

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Second image –

<a style=”background-color:black;color:white;text-decoration:none;padding:4px 6px;font-family:-apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;San Francisco&quot;, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, Helvetica, Ubuntu, Roboto, Noto, &quot;Segoe UI&quot;, Arial, sans-serif;font-size:12px;font-weight:bold;line-height:1.2;display:inline-block;border-radius:3px” href=”https://unsplash.com/@punttim?utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=photographer-credit&amp;utm_content=creditBadge” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” title=”Download free do whatever you want high-resolution photos from Tim Gouw”><span style=”display:inline-block;padding:2px 3px”><svg xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/2000/svg” style=”height:12px;width:auto;position:relative;vertical-align:middle;top:-2px;fill:white” viewBox=”0 0 32 32″><title>unsplash-logo</title><path d=”M10 9V0h12v9H10zm12 5h10v18H0V14h10v9h12v-9z”></path></svg></span><span style=”display:inline-block;padding:2px 3px”>Tim Gouw</span></a>

Third image – By John Leech (1817-1864) – https://books.google.com/books?id=L69SAAAAcAAJ, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76294179

Fourth Image – By Andrey Baboshin – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4077665

Fifth image –

<a style=”background-color:black;color:white;text-decoration:none;padding:4px 6px;font-family:-apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;San Francisco&quot;, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, Helvetica, Ubuntu, Roboto, Noto, &quot;Segoe UI&quot;, Arial, sans-serif;font-size:12px;font-weight:bold;line-height:1.2;display:inline-block;border-radius:3px” href=”https://unsplash.com/@jonathanborba?utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=photographer-credit&amp;utm_content=creditBadge” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” title=”Download free do whatever you want high-resolution photos from Jonathan Borba”><span style=”display:inline-block;padding:2px 3px”><svg xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/2000/svg” style=”height:12px;width:auto;position:relative;vertical-align:middle;top:-2px;fill:white” viewBox=”0 0 32 32″><title>unsplash-logo</title><path d=”M10 9V0h12v9H10zm12 5h10v18H0V14h10v9h12v-9z”></path></svg></span><span style=”display:inline-block;padding:2px 3px”>Jonathan Borba</span></a>

Sixth image – https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77113098

Seventh image – By Carl Albert Research and Studies Center, Congressional Collection – http://www.ou.edu/carlalbertcenter/congressional-collection, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80262278

Eight image –  By Kamran Hussain – DSC_5066, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36541272

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