These are the questions to test competences described in the LegalRecruit blog. This test is similar to other situational judgment tests, often used by recruiters to see whether you are suitable for the culture of their organisation. For each test, you will be presented with 12 scenarios. For each scenario, three options are given. Choose one of the options, corresponding to what you feel is the best course of action to take given your available choices. Try to answer the question honestly, not what you feel the recruiter might be looking for necessarily. No specific knowledge or training as a corporate lawyer is required to be able to answer the questions but you will need to consider the safety of themselves and others and use the information provided to decide how best to respond. General common sense would be of great value for this test. You will get no immediate response, however there will be within a few days a complete breakdown of the results of the 72 questions, and the answers you were supposed to give.
There are a huge number of questions, and preliminary results show that the results you have decided are pretty clear-cut. This is what the people who set these questions call ‘validation by an expert group’. Please do let me know if there are any particular questions which have caused undue confusion using the comments facility below. They will be remedied as required.
The six tests are:
Commitment to excellence
Leadership and attention-to-detail
Communication and negotiation skills
Good recruitment works well, for both the candidate and the firm, but a lot can go wrong in the process. Ideally, recruitment should be exploring which candidate has the most potential to fit into the organizational structure and culture of that firm, but too often it ends up being a case of ‘damage limitation’. The utilisation of this approach is most dangerous for firms which aim to encourage innovation or entrepreneurship, as many firms in the City claim to be. If truth be told, they are often looking for reliable ‘fee earners’ instead. It is perfectly possible for you to ‘train’ to become good at these tests.
Law firms tend to have a very clear idea what they’re looking for. These are called “competences“. ‘Situational judgement tests’ look at competencies.
Outstanding problem-solving skills
Do you have the mental agility and intellectual rigour to analyse problems and apply this analysis to develop novel, unexpected solutions?
The problems you face can be large or small, simple or complex, and easy or difficult to solve. Regardless of the nature of the problems, a fundamental part of every trainee lawyer’s role is finding ways to solve them. So, being a confident problem solver will really important to your success a trainee lawyer.
Much of that confidence comes from having a good process to use when approaching a problem. There are various methodologies which you could use to improve your ‘problem solving’ ability: the ‘Mindtools’ website http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_00.htm. With a consistent method, you can solve problems quickly and effectively. Without one, your solutions may be ineffective, or you’ll get stuck and do nothing, with sometimes painful consequences.
There are four basic steps in problem solving:
1. Defining the problem.
2. Generating alternatives.
3. Evaluating and selecting alternatives.
4. Implementing solutions.
Steps 2 to 4 of this process are covered in depth in other areas of Mind Tools. For these, see our sections on Creativity for step 2 (generating alternatives); Decision Making for step 3 (evaluating and selecting alternatives); and Project Management for step 4 (implementing solutions).
Are you naturally inquisitive with an openness to new ideas and the initiative to turn them into practical results? Initiative is often misunderstood because it is simply not about meeting performance goals or targets; it’s often about going the extra mile. Initiative may be about identifying a need and championing a solution for the benefit of the law firm, without being asked to do so. Initiative involves a sense of responsibility for the company’s well-being and a few guiding principles. Initiative is about taking steps to make the law firm better, and not about wasting time tackling unimportant matters. To make the distinction, try determining the impact a certain action would make on your team’s performance, the company’s bottom-line or the company’s long-term vision.
Being proactive means thinking and acting ahead – basically, this means using foresight. It’s a great method for avoiding more work down the road but also can be extremely important for averting disasters, planning well for the future and for instituting systems at work, in study, and at home that make life easier for not just you, but others as well.
Consider whether your working style is more “active” or “passive”,
An excellent, friendly, article on showing initiative is here, http://uk.askmen.com/money/professional_100/137_professional_life.html.
This article also gives a very interesting perspective on questions you might ask yourself to develop a “proactive mindset”, http://www.wikihow.com/Be-Proactive
The difference between “reactive” and “proactive” language is indeed an interesting one: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2004/11/be-proactive/.
Commitment to excellence
Do you hold yourself to the highest standards of performance even when the going is tough? And are you passionate about continuously raising and refining your own performance levels? Do you persevere when pursuing a project, but remain flexible if there are obstacles in your way?
A ‘commitment to excellence’ is broadly defined to mean that an employee ‘adopts a conscientious and proactive approach to work to achieve and maintain excellent standards’. Every member a corporate law firm must strive to achieve and maintain the highest professional and personal standards, thereby enhancing both the competence and cohesion of that law firm.
It is interesting to have a look at various law firms you know to see how they present their commitment to excellence. There are in fact various ways in which law firms can commit to excellence, and you should search for the term ‘shared values’ on the corporate website. It’s interesting in fact how law firms can vary markedly even in their taglines: http://www.lawmarketing.com/pages/articles.asp?Action=Article&ArticleCategoryID=6&ArticleID=173.
Many law firms believe that community and social responsibility (corporate social responsibility) involves an understanding of the impact our business has on the environment, the welfare of individuals, the community and the sustainability of the world’s resources. This means that running a business goes beyond making profits and acquiring wealth, and law firms increasingly acknowledge our obligation to consider the wider interests of our clients, employees and the community in which we function. In economic terms, responsible approach in these areas can lead to greater efficiencies, lower costs and an improved reputation as a responsible service provider and employer.
The SRA Handbook sets out the standards and requirements we expect our regulated community to achieve and observe, for the benefit of the clients they serve and in the public interest.
The Legal Services Board (LSB) approved the Handbook on 17 June 2011. The key implementation date was 6 October 2011.
The SRA’s approach to regulation is outcomes-focused and risk-based, so that clients receive services in a way that best suits their needs. More about outcomes-focused regulation
Read Outcomes-focused regulation at a glance online
Overview of the Handbook
Table comparing old and new approaches
It is really important that you make every effort to stay in good physical or mental health for our own health and well-being and also as a personal responsibility towards people you work for/with. It is our responsibility to develop our own and others’ professional understanding of how air corporate law is most effectively applied and how it can remain relevant and capable in contemporary environments.
Strong communication skills
Can you communicate fluently, clearly and concisely? Persuade and negotiate with others in both group and individual situations? Make complex information understandable to clients? What will you do if you find there are problems with communication?
A really helpful website is at http://law.gsu.edu/Communication/ Entitled “Effective Lawyer Client Communication:
An International Project to Move from Research to Reform”, the authors describe that the goal of their project is improve lawyer-client communication by combining what has been learned so far within legal education with empirical social science research. We have selected the initial client interview as the focus for the pilot project. The initial interview is, of course, the one unit of service that is constant across all forms of legal service delivery. It is also one of the most critical units of service. The initial interview: (1) shapes client perception of the lawyer; (2) defines the service to be provided in terms of both problem and goal; and (3) is an important opportunity for client education, e.g. confidentiality, substantive legal rights, what the client can do for himself or herself, and the need to preserve evidence.
Professor Clark Cunningham is the Director of an international collaborative project, based at Georgia State University, on lawyer-client communication: Effective Lawyer Client Communication (ELCC): An International Project to Move from Research to Reform, http://tinyurl.com/64csb2g.
The goal of this project is improving lawyer-client communication by combining what has been learned so far within legal education with empirical social science research. The project has the potential to change the way client communication is taught around the world.
Prof Cunningham refers to William Felstiner, former Director of the American Bar Association:
“He gathers from these sources the conclusion that lawyers frequently fail to treat clients with respect, do not consider the nature of interpersonal relations with clients to be an important aspect of law practice, are motivated more by financial returns than by professional values, are inaccessible and unresponsive, are poor communicators, do not know how to deal with clients effectively, are indifferent to clients’ feelings, and are indifferent to the pace of clients’ legal affairs.”
Irene Leonard has produced ‘7 steps’ for effective communication:
She comments that:
“The practice of law is highly dependent on good communication skills, especially persuasive verbal skills. Mastering these seven keys will allow you to connect with your clients in a more meaningful way and solve problems more effectively. You will have more successful presentations and depositions. Even interactions with your staff will be improved.”
Do you have the confidence to collaborate, seek feedback, share ideas and build credibility through your interaction other people?
A good overview of the relevance of teamwork to legal reruitment, and beyond, is for legal recruitment purposes Is given on the page: http://www.wikijob.co.uk/wiki/teamwork. However, a much useful article serving as an introduction to teamwork is http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/leadtem.html, which features a discussion of the ‘elements of a good team’. Candidates with good teamwork skills are normally able to see the bigger picture and grasp the concept that employers value the outcome achieved by a group, more than that achieved by any one person.
You might like to look into certain areas such as:
1. Conflict resolution
2. Maximising your contribution (see in particular ‘Belbin’s team roles)
3. Using ‘small wins’ to motivate other members of your team
4. Managing in India
There is a well-known model of working in groups, which you may be interested in:
Often quoted, Bruce Tuckman’s classic description of the stages of group development is easy to understand and remember, but it helps to go back and look at what’s behind each stage. Tuckman is a respected educational psychologist who first described the (then) four stages of group development in 1965, soon after leaving Princeton. Looking at the behaviour of small groups in a variety of environments, he recognised the distinct phases they progress through, and suggested they need to experience all four stages before they achieve maximum effectiveness.
The importance of “teamwork” to law firms is described in a very elegant article by Bob Bookman entitled “Teamwork: Outlawing the Lone Ranger Partner”,
Teamwork is a good mechanism for sharing the workload. Luckily, for the corporate world, most humans gravitate towards team work; they prefer sharing the workload (http://www.helium.com/items/344790-the-importance-of-teamwork-in-the-company ). Humans have discovered, since the earliest of days that many hands make for a much lighter load. An excellent analysis of why teamwork is otherwise important is given in this article, http://www.the-happy-manager.com/why-is-teamwork-important.html.
Teamwork also constitute an important part of competence interviews later in the assessment process:
Attention-to-detail and leadership
Can you manage your own workload, stay organised under pressure, pay attention to detail and be relied on to complete each task accurately and completely?
Corporate law firms need trainees who can handle both the small and large parts of a task. Such individuals won’t overlook what needs to be done and can be depended on to do each task accurately and completely.
Proofreading is an example of where attention-to-detail is critical – this is especially important whether you are a medical writer, for example, or a legal draftsman. It’s well worth looking at “top tips” for how you can be a good proofreader, and bear in mind that legal recruiters will go through your application form “with a fine toothcomb” to look for any mistakes. A website providing useful tips is:
The following website page from the University of North Caroline offers an useful checklist about what might be included in ‘attention-to-detail’:
For example, the trainee solicitor:
- Keeps a project checklist, covering all the details that might be overlooked.
- Checks, and rechecks work for mistakes before sending out.
- Follows procedures exactly to make sure all parts of a job are completed.
- Compares finished work to what is expected.
- Performs routine or repetitious tasks with care and attention.
- Reviews work carefully for completeness and accuracy.
- Makes sure equipment is working before it is needed in a project.
Legal recruiters are often looking for ‘future leaders’, although they do not give a coherent description of leadership qualities they are looking for. Here are some useful basic web resources which serve as an introduction on leadership:
Examples of questions for the ‘situational judgement test’
88 individuals took the LegalAware SJT test, and here is a breakdown of the results. This is described in a blogpost on the LegalAware blogpost, http://legal-aware.org/2011/09/legalaware-the-situational-judgment-test-a-test-used-by-clifford-chance-and-eversheds/.
EQ1 You are a trainee. You find that a document summarising the background of a client, which your Managing Associate has prepared and circulated to your group, contains some factual errors about the client. You know the client’s history well as you once did a research project on them at University. You are at a meeting, with your Managing Associate and Partner present. Which of the following courses of action do you take?
Half-way through the group meeting present your own Powerpoint presentation outlining the Managing Associate’s mistakes. (0%)
Have a private word with the Managing Associate early on in the meeting, to ask what he would advise. (91%)
Immediately seek the attention of the Partner to express your concerns. (9%)
EQ2 It is your first day on a team of a trainees consisting of four people (including yourself). Your Managing Associate has asked your group of trainees to find the relevant cases relating to a transaction you are about to start. He has previously given you a list of the cases. This is an area which you studied in a module at University, and you feel you know it well. What do you decide to do regarding finding the cases?
Assemble your own list of cases, and obtain case judgments for all of them, and photocopy them. (7%)
Introduce yourself to the other trainees, and discuss with them how they wish to proceed in finding the cases. (90%)
Find your own list of cases, and ask the other trainees to find them for you. (2%)
EQ3 Your friend, who has always been your competitor at law school, is about to give a Powerpoint presentation on share acquisitions in Korea as a trainee, and you know that the Managing Associate is looking forward to this presentation with interest. However, there appears to be a mechanical fault with accessing Broadband, and the only copy of the file is an email which she sent to you to check yesterday. You saved it on your memory stick, which you happen to have brought to the meeting. You know the memory stick is compatible with the computer she is using for her presentation. How do you decide to proceed?
Pretend you have forgotten the memory stick, and you cannot help. (0%)
Offer to upload the presentation on her computer using the memory stick, but to offer also to download the file from the internet if that fails from a neighbouring computer. (94%)
Ask the Managing Associate for help, to demonstrate that you enjoy teamwork. (6%)
EQ4 You have about sixty documents relating to a financial transaction which you have inherited this morning. It is your first morning in a new seat with five new trainees, and one of your two Managing Associates (the one who was due to meet you) is late for work. What do you first?
Introduce yourself to the other members of your team. (86%)
Phone the other Managing Associate, and insist on him or her being there to lead your business meeting this morning. (1%)
Arrange the documents into five piles of twelve documents, and ask each member of the team to provide details about them for use in an Excel spreadsheet. (13%)
EQ5 You are a trainee, nearly concluding a very important transaction. Your client has asked you to fax to him a copy of a document, but the only person who has a copy of it is your (only) Managing Associate, but he is on holiday in Tenerife and is completely unavailable. All the other members of the team are currently listed as ‘available’ in your head office. Which of the following people would you like to contact first for help?
Another trainee (16%)
An associate (67%)
A partner (17%)
EQ6 You have written a report on private equity in Japan, and you have ten minutes before the deadline, to send it to your supervisor. You are aware that there may be some cases with incorrect citations referenced. Which of the following do you do?
Check thoroughly for spelling and grammar errors. (5%)
Identify urgently the references in an accurate way, and amend your report. (78%)
Ask for an extension (a few hours in addition) so that you can vastly improve your report potentially. (17%)
EQ7 You are close to the final weeks of your first seat in technology in London. Your team is considering proposing a new office in an international jurisdiction to further your commercial interests abroad. The other trainees have asked you to present what you think is the most important aspect of that proposed office, as collectively your Supervisor has asked you to assemble a report on the subject by the end of the week. Which of the following factors do you think might be most important for opening this new office, which you choose to include in your report?
The quality of legal services to be offered by your firm in that particular office. (58%)
The price of legal services to be offered by your firm in that particular office. (4%)
The range of legal services to be offered by your firm in that particular office. (38%)
EQ8 You are a trainee in the corporate finance seat in London where all team members are extremely busy. You have recently been liaising with ten particular clients on an almost daily basis in France. Your Supervisor has asked you to canvass for opinions of various clients in different countries towards the recent fall in stock prices in the European markets. You feel you do not have time to do this task on your own in time. Which of the options do you consider first?
Seek help from other trainees to help you to write the report, and ask other trainees which clients should be contacted. (24%)
Seek help from other trainees to help you to write the report, and contact some or all of the ten clients to ask them for their opinions. (47%)
Research the information which could be obtained from the clients and punctually write a report. (28%)
EQ9 You passed your advanced elective in intellectual property in your Legal Practice Course. You are in a small team of five trainees, and you are all working on an urgent case the preparation of which must be concluded by the close-of-play tomorrow night. Your Managing Associate has asked you to consider where a series of claims in a patent diverges between your client and the party making a claim against your client. She is experienced in intellectual property. You have not looked at the case yet, but already three people think the claims diverge at step 12, but one person thinks the claims diverge at 23. Where the claims diverge is important for your case. Which of the following options do you pursue first?
Analyse the case first to make up your mind about where you think the claims diverge, and discuss further with your team. (93%)
Ask all other members of the team to compile (and email to you) a written report to send to your Managing Associate so that she can decide. (4%)
Ask your Managing Associate to meet up with you urgently to resolve the dispute. (3%)
EQ10 You are a trainee in a law firm, and your best friend is working in a rival firm. You get on well with your Managing Associate, as your firm is reputed to be ‘small but very friendly’. She is very good at keeping secrets, according to your colleagues. Your friend is acting in the team for the opposing client, and has told you informally that it is widely believed in fact that the share acquisition does not fit in with their corporate strategy, despite what is reported in the Financial Times. She has asked you not to tell anyone, but the information could make a critical difference to the success of the transaction of your client. What do you do?
Decide to keep this information confidential, but consider the information as part of your preparatory research, as available from public sources. (58%)
Tell your Managing Associate immediately in private, but request politely that she does not tell anyone. (11%)
Ignore the information, as it could be totally untrustworthy anyway. (31%)
It’s really important to realise that if you have a reading disability or visual impairment, the test administrators, designers and corporate law firm are obliged to enter into both the letter and spirit of helping you. Once you have all the ‘reasonable adjustments’ successfully implemented (if and only if, rather), it is perfectly possible for you to ‘train’ to become good at these tests.
Reading difficulty (dyslexia)
Dyslexia can be a legally recognised disability depending on its severity. Therefore, when applicants or candidates are being assessed, the qualified test user should have due regard to the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act (1995)or Equality Act (2010); this makes it unlawful for an employer to treat a disabled person less favourably than a non-disabled person without good reason.
Discrimination is outlawed in a wide range of employment activities including selection, promotion and training. Employers have a duty to make “reasonable adjustments” to selection processes and working conditions so that disabled persons are not placed at a substantial disadvantage
The definition of the British Dyslexia Association mentions the impact dyslexia can have on other functions as well as literacy.
The BDA defines dyslexia as:
‘A combination of abilities and difficulties which affect the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing. Accompanying weaknesses may be identified in areas of speed processing, short-term memory, sequencing, auditory and/or visual perception, spoken language and motor skills. It is particularly related to mastering and using written language, which may include alphabetic, numeric and musical notation.’
In selection for a training contract, an individual with dyslexia is likely to encounter difficulty with tests of verbal reasoning, spelling and functional literacy. The law requires that accommodations are made for disabled people including those with dyslexia to ensure that selection procedures do not disadvantage them. The employer is concerned with eliciting accurate information on abilities to use in making decisions.
The standardised nature of these tests is one of the main contributors to their effectiveness and objectivity. Arbitrary modifications to the test or administration procedure are likely to invalidate the results and render standard norm groups and score interpretations meaningless.
A common modification for individuals with dyslexia is to adjust the timing of the test. However, the amount of extra time required will depend on the way the dyslexia manifests itself, its severity, the test(s) being used and their relationship to the job requirements. Only a relevant professional can determine what is appropriate.
Whether adjustments have been made to standard test procedures or not, careful administration can help ensure that individuals with dyslexia have a fair opportunity to demonstrate their skills.
As with many disabilities, stress may exacerbate the impact of dyslexia. Therefore, a calm and understanding approach on the part of the administrator is important.
People with dyslexia may have difficulty with test instructions. This can be due to reading difficulties, or to a difficulty with short term memory and/or sequencing which is common with dyslexia.
The British Dyslexia Association
Contact details here
For all dyslexia related enquiries.
Tel: 0845 251 9002
Our Helpline, staffed by volunteers, is open from 10:00a.m. until 4:00p.m. Monday to Friday, and open late on Tuesday and Wednesday from 5:00 – 7:00p.m.
Specialist Teacher and Accreditation Enquiries
Tel: 0845 251 9003
Office and Administrative Enquiries
Tel: 0845 251 9003
Fax: 0845 251 9005.
Unit 8 Bracknell Beeches, Old Bracknell Lane, Bracknell, RG12 7BW.
Equality and Human Rights Commission
England: 0845 604 6610
Textphone: 0845 604 6620
Scotland: 0845 604 5510
Textphone: 0845 604 5520
Wales: 0845 604 8810
Textphone: 0845 604 8820
Visual impairments and the law
A person who is registered or certified blind or partially sighted is automatically regarded as disabled under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995). However, even without registration, it is likely that a person with significantly limited vision which is not easily corrected using glasses or contact lenses will be considered disabled under the provisions of the Act.
The DDA makes it unlawful for an employer to treat a disabled person less favourably than a non-disabled person and those who provide services must make them accessible to clients with disabilities. When tests are being used in connection with employment (e.g. in making selection decisions) employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled persons are not placed at a substantial disadvantage.
Disabled individuals have the right to expect the same quality of service, including accuracy of diagnostics and assessment as other users of the service.
About visual impairments
Visual impairment covers a wide range of conditions.
Even a person who is registered blind may have some residual vision, e.g. the ability to discern light from dark or even quite good acuity within a severely limited field of vision.
Partial sight also covers many different types of conditions. These can range from very blurred vision to loss of some areas of the field of vision. For some people the act of focusing can be difficult, this can mean that reading difficult, as it is necessary to constantly refocus on the next portion of text.
A visual impairment may occur alone or in combination with other conditions.
Some people are born with visual impairments or have lived with the disability for a long time and have been taught or developed their own strategies for coping with both the practical difficulties of living and dealing with information usually presented in text form. For those with more residual vision, texts are typically accessed using large print and/or various magnification and lighting aids. Aids can include powerful spectacle lenses, free-standing magnifiers placed on top of a text, often with an integral light source.
Impact on testing
Any task where materials are presented visually, whether on paper, computer screen or as objects to be manipulated, will cause difficulty for a visually impaired person. This will include the vast majority of psychometric tests.
In order to assess a person with a visual disability, it is likely to be necessary to
- make adjustments to standardised test administration procedures, use alternate
- forms of materials, or both. However, such changes to a test cannot be made without affecting its reliability and validity.
The standardised nature of psychometric tests is one of the main contributors to their effectiveness and objectivity, and arbitrary modifications to the test or administration procedure are likely to invalidate the results and render standard norm groups and score interpretations meaningless. Some test takers may want to bring along some special equipment or ask for specific lighting conditions.
Practical advice during the testing session
Whether adjustments have been made to standard test procedures or not, careful administration can help ensure that the test results for someone with a visual impairment remain valid.
- A calm and understanding approach on the part of the administrator is important.
- If test administration times are greatly extended consider whether breaks are needed to prevent you / the candidate from becoming overtired.
- Make a note any adjustments made, or any other non-standard occurrences.
- If further advice is required in interpreting the results, make sure you consultant the recruiter from your corporate law firm, who may wish to contact the test publisher or consult with a Chartered Psychologist with expertise in visual impairment.
In fact, as part of your preparation for doing these tests, you might find it fun to get used to reading stories of varied cultural material – test yourself at seeing how many correct inferences you can make from the subject matter given! The advantage of such material is that they are all written with high-quality, and peer-reviewed/edited for spelling, grammar, and general style.