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Trends in graduate recruitment in Law and Legal Services

Discover the latest in employment trends in a diverse and challenging sector

Despite the economic upturn, the Law and Legal Services sector remains challenging in terms of graduate recruitment.

Only 20% of employers are expecting to increase their graduate intake in 2015, reflecting the cautious nature of the sector at present. This research was compiled in the Graduate Recruitment and Employability Survey (2013-14) conducted by AHECS.

None of the organisations expect to decrease their graduate recruitment, which is positive.

“I think it will develop positively over the next five years but also moderately. Graduate recruitment numbers are unlikely to change dramatically in the coming years”, says a leading employer in the sector.

Rather surprisingly, employers in the industry are extremely varied in the degree programmes they seek their graduates from. As expected, Law and Commerce and Business Studies were the most popular, but degree programmes as diverse as Arts and Humanities and Food, Science and Technology have also provided recruits, demonstrating the range of industries and clients with whom legal firms work.

In terms of academic level, most graduates come from honours degrees or postgraduate level, but some employers stated they will hire those with ordinary degrees as well.

Academic results

In terms of criteria, employers emphasised overall academic results as very important which, in the context of the diverse range of degrees graduates are hired from, shows perhaps it’s the result rather than the discipline that matters most in this sector.

Employers also said that having some relevant work experience would help them stand out in the current "static" recruitment market, according to the survey.

In terms of employability skills, as the sector is client oriented, business and customer awareness, and communication were highlighted as the two most desirable attributes while a positive attitude was also identified by some employers.

Despite its importance, employers are raising concerns that graduates’ business and customer awareness skills are not sufficient, something they also identified with regards to self-management and problem solving.

Employers recommended that graduates take risks and do something out of their comfort zone regularly. This requirement suggests the type of personality the sector is looking for. Other evidence to this is shown by the desire of employers to have well rounded candidates with a history of travelling abroad and voluntary work as well as summer internships and getting involved in clubs and societies. All of this helps a candidate stand out during the interview process.

Employers also pointed out that students need to develop their written skills, paying particularly attention to spelling and grammar, as they are critical aspects of the job.

Download the AHECS Graduate Recruitment and Employability Survey 2013 here