A job posting that lists your skills and areas of experience is an exciting find. On paper, the job looks like the perfect fit – but is the firm or department the perfect fit as well?
The culture of a law firm or legal department can impact your career as heavily as the tasks you are expected to perform. When the culture is right for you, your work can flourish, as you spend each day working with people you like on a goal the team supports.
Here are several ways to “decode” a firm’s culture and decide whether it is the right place for you:
- Read everything you can find about the firm’s work. Many firms impart a single, consistent brand on their Web pages and in other public materials. To learn what the firm is really interested in, however, you’ll need to dig into their recent cases or other work, media coverage, and other sources in addition to the firm’s own public brand. Read everything you can find that relates to the organization’s recent work to get a view of what its lawyers and legal support staff consider important enough to handle regularly.
- Ask the right interview questions. The interview is a great opportunity for you to ask the firm’s managers to describe the place. Good questions to ask in order to learn more about the internal culture include:
- What traits do your top performers share? The answer to this question will tell you what skills and behaviors the firm values in its legal support staff and will likely reward.
- Why do you love working here? The interviewer’s answer to this question should be enthusiastic and should describe a place you feel enthusiastic to work for, too. If not, the firm may not be the right fit for you.
- If you could change one thing about the culture here, what would it be? Even a seemingly personal answer, like “I wish I didn’t have to operate on such a tight budget,” will tell you a great deal about what it’s like to work at the firm.
- Seek help. Colleagues who have experience with the firm may be able to shed light on its internal workings. Also, talk to your recruiter, who specializes in knowing each law firm and legal department’s culture inside and out.
At Kent Legal, our recruiters match legal support professionals to law firms and legal departments throughout the greater Toronto area. Contact us today to learn more.