I receive many applications from people applying for the position of candidate attorney in our firm. Depending on the time of the year, it can be as many as 10 in a week. I do look at all of them, but usually within about 30 seconds I have made up my mind. And usually it is not to read any further.
I’m afraid this is going to be a bit of a rant, but bear with me.
The problem is that the applications are not written with me, the reader, in mind. It is almost always clear that the applicant has not thought about me for one second. They have sent the same application to a hundred firms hoping someone will accept. They have not thought about why we would have a mutually beneficial relationship.
By way of example, let me sketch the following scenario. Imagine a beautiful young lady in a bar. A man walks up and says:
“You’ve never met me before. But I found your name on the Internet or in a directory. I’m looking to enter into a relationship with someone like you for two years. I haven’t bothered to find out anything about you and, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what type of person you are. I would really like to have a two-year relationship with you. I’m funny, clever, and a pleasure to have around – you’ll see. After the two-year relationship with you, I’ll be more attractive to other women, so I might not hang around. But, how about it?“
Do you think he has any chance? Clearly not. The man needs to establish a relationship with the woman first. Make her believe that he is somebody who can bring value to her life. It certainly wouldn’t hurt if he had done some research and knew a bit about her before he approached her. Some polite introductory conversation would also probably have been a good idea. He needs to show a bit of interest first before cutting straight to the chase. He needs to demonstrate why he will be good for her.
Taking on a candidate attorney is a significant undertaking that comes with many obligations. And it is not something that I will do lightly. It takes a huge investment of time. So, I’m afraid applicants need to do a lot more preparatory work, otherwise the answer is almost certainly going to be no.
These are the sort of things that I’m looking for. A candidate who has:
- written a CV that demonstrates the value they can add;
- looked at many different firms, decided that ours is the best, and can give reasons why;
- read our website backwards;
- followed both me and the firm on twitter and maybe interacted with us;
- liked our Facebook page and possibly tried to make contact through LinkedIn;
- read some of the books that we recommend;
- explained in plain and understandable language why we will have a mutually beneficial relationship.
Yes, academic results are important. But more important are questions like:
- Can we work together?
- Do you know what we do?
- Are you interested in what we do? If not, you will get bored very quickly.
- What skills have you got that can be applied in our firm?
- What value can you add to our clients? Can you help them to grow and avoid legal problems, difficulties, and disputes?
- Where in South Africa do you want to live?
- What is your race? We strive to empower previously disadvantaged people.
If you can demonstrate these qualities and answer these questions, I’ll be interested. If you can’t, expect the same reaction that the man will get from the beautiful young lady in the bar.
If you wish to apply for a position as a candidate attorney, please send us your application.