Justinian's news stories

The Minus wars ... Struggle by the Australian Bar Association to keep its name to itself ... Barrister's business used a similar name ... Attempt to make barristers' service more accessible ... Long and tiring litigation ... Read more ... 


Search Justinian
Free Newsletter sign-up
Justinian Columnists

Keeping the government safe ... Collaery prosecution ... Whistleblowing conspiracy ... Fallout from Australia's Timor Leste bugging spree ... Woodside and Alexander Downer ... Selective prosecution policy ... Canberra's long, slow dance with duplicity ... Read more ... 


 

 

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    "I would also encourage any member with an interest in this case to be conscious of the fact that the priority must be to allow judicial processes to be conducted without commentary which could impact on the fairness and regularity of those proceedings." 

    Attorney General Christian Porter trying to hold back the tsumani of commentary about his decision to allow the prosecution of lawyer Bernard Collaery and Witness K. June 28, 2018 ... Read more flatulence ... 


    Justinian Featurettes

    Lorenzo Street's passing out parade ... Street the Stockman ... The shirt of flies ... Platypus Junction ... Street the charmer ... Friend of the press ... A legacy in law and love ... The sea and the bush ... Read more ... 


    Justinian's archive

    Sydney lawyers and TINS ... Barry Lane tracks in exquisite detail the Kala Subramaniam case, which should have sounded a warning bell for The Mensch ... Alas ... From Justinian's archive, March 31, 2009 ... Read more ... 


     

    « Horse talk | Main | Competitive advantage is an illusion »
    Monday
    Jul172017

    Moulds remain unbroken

    The diversity mirage for clerkship applicants ... The second round interview is more akin to social vetting ... An applicant's "likeability" is the key ... Our Student-at-Large complains about the charisma quotient 

    AS the clerkship application deadline looms for the year, students across the state scramble to cobble together over-achieving CVs and responses to the world's big questions - "what inspired you to study law?" 

    The hope, the expectation is that years of law revue dance rehearsals, student law society committee meetings and late nights in the law library will land them the key to that soon-to-be six figure salary at one of Sydney's top commercial law firms.

    With an increasing number of graduates churned out of law schools each year, and a dwindling number of jobs (don't forget to mention artificial intelligence in your cover letter!), the competition - or "Hunger Games", as The Australian Financial Review aptly called it last year - is getting hotter. 

    Yet, there has been a change in the tide - law firms have become more concerned with "diversity", assuring applicants that their firm is the paragon of meritocracy in a once nepotistic profession. 

    Long gone are the days when inequity was an accepted part of the game, to be replaced with all manner of new-age recruitment methods, with firms now "reaching out to candidates who don't fit the mould". 

    King & Wood Mallesons boasts a process that blocks out information including a candidates name, gender, address and high school. Instead, there's a "contextual" recruitment system that takes into account whether candidates come from a disadvantaged family, or rural or isolated area.

    They are not the only ones "reaching out". With firms holding practice interviewing sessions, hackathons, cover letter writing sessions and practice group presentations in the lead-up to applications, the old barriers to entry appear to have crumbled.  

    There's one key holdout from the glory days, though: the first and second round interview process for applicants. 

    Once a candidate has passed the first round, the remaining path to securing the coveted elevator pass is a contest of who's most well versed in the middle class art of managing small talk with a canapé in one hand and a drink in the other. 

    While wannabe management consultants are given problems to solve, and the public sector drills its graduate hopefuls with assessment centres and all manner of logical, numerical and verbal reasoning tests, many law firms still adopt an interview process that is more like a dinner date.

    Substantive legal questions are generally unheard of. Instead, an interviewer will throw in a behavioural question or two, but the biggest test is simply likeability. 

    Since the partner interviewing you is more likely to be a theatre going, marathon running, ex-GPS boy, than someone who went to a public school in rural NSW, the deck is stacked in your favour if you meet that descriptor too. 

    It's tough: firms want to find people who fit their "culture" and who will one day be able to schmooze satisfactorily with their private equity clients, and at the same time they want to give all applicants a fair go.   

    One's ability to charm is no doubt relevant to assessing suitability in a services industry, but industries with similar needs currently assess this as part of structured interviews that evaluate attributes more relevant to the role at hand.  

    If firms are truly interested in breaking the mould, it will take more than de-identified recruitment processes and presentations at universities. 

    The real solution is a more a meritocratic interviewing process that is not largely related to charisma, but which aims specifically to assess, as other industries do, people's aptitude for the day-to-day minutiae of the job. 

    Reader Comments

    There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.
    Member Account Required
    You must have a member account on this website in order to post comments. Log in to your account to enable posting.