Writing Tip 6: Communicating your Motivation for Law

Discussion in 'Public Feedback Forum' started by Hazal, May 18, 2019.

  1. Hazal

    Hazal Legendary Member
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    Why have you chosen law over another career or what has attracted you to commercial law are all iterations of the same question and you're likely to be asked it in your next application. However, what is the question broadly asking you and how can you go about answering it are considerations you must take into account before delving in.

    In fact, your route into law may not have been definite and certain. You may have mulled it over for a little while or been enticed by money. Nevertheless, it’s important to break down all the little motivations that keep you going and what you think will result in your eventual satisfaction within this field of work. Below, I have outlined a few.

    1) Considering motivations

    I believe that motivation for a legal career can broadly fit into two categories:
    • experience in the legal world
    • internal motivators
    While the first is self-explanatory – think presentation evenings, open days, formal and informal work experience opportunities – the second relates to what you are seeking from a career, how you know you want that from a career and why you think law might be able to provide it. I also believe you can tie the two together – you don’t necessarily have to separate them.

    For example:

    you might know that you’re seeking a career that’s sociable and allows you to work collaboratively with other people. You would then demonstrate in your writing how you know that to be the case, e.g. you’re an avid player of team sports or you might be captain of the debate team. The next step would then be to relate it to law: how do you know that law is a career that will provide that satisfaction? This would be your opportunity to mention any events or lawyers you’ve spoken to who have proven that collaboration is key to a legal career.

    It is important to note that this is not a question that is asking whether you’d be a good lawyer (unless it explicitly asks that) so outlining your strengths and relating it to law isn’t what you need to do. However, having said that, you may be looking for a career that uses your strengths because you actually enjoy using them.

    For example:

    I’ve previously used the example of written communication as a motivator for pursuing a legal career. Writing well is not just a strength of mine, it’s an enjoyment and something I have an appreciation for. I can then relate that to law by discussing the uniqueness of the profession with needing good written communication. This has then allowed me to delve into legal experience I’ve had in the past that’s asked me to use that skill, thereby proving that I know what this career entails.

    A further consideration is that, when looking at your motivators as a whole, ask yourself whether you could apply them to many other careers. If you only list collaboration, problem-solving and client-contact, for example, consider whether the recruiter will think: “but couldn’t you get the same from investment banking or consulting?” Hopefully, your examples from legal experiences will not prompt this question but it’s a consideration worth keeping in mind.

    2) The writing

    I’ve discussed clarity of expression and structuring your answers previously (here) so I won’t go into detail again. However, like every piece of writing you create, it is important to consider what it is that you are answering. Returning to my introduction and the fact that there are many iterations of the same question, it is important that you answer the exact question you have been given and not what you think you have been given. Some examples of different types of this question include:
    • Why have you chosen law over another career?
    • Why are you interested in becoming a commercial solicitor?
    • Please explain your interest in pursuing a legal career at an international law firm?
    • Please explain why you want to be a solicitor at XYZ firm?
    Each firm wants to know that you’ve really considered the profession and that you want it. But each one also asks it a slightly different way each time. Reading into the question will help you structure your answer.

    For example, if a question has the word “commercial” or “city” within it, you will need to explicitly explain what about that has attracted you. I would even go so far as to say that, for any commercial city law firm, you will need to discuss why commercial law anyway.

    Then, you have other identifiers within some questions, such as “international”. That is an explicit prompt to show that you’ve considered the globality of the law firm and why that draws you in. Finally, some law firms combine career motivation with motivation for them specifically. For this, I would consider both halves separately but also how they might be combined (which might make for a more convincing and impressive answer). For example, a motivator for pursuing law might be the international aspect of the work and you can connect that to the reason why you chose xyz international law firm. If you can’t make such explicit links, I would advise that you just focus on being clear and convincing.

    If you've had the courage to read this loong post, I thank you and hope you've find it useful. But if anyone has a different written topic they would like covered, please let me know as I am always open to suggestions and ideas! Thank you :)
     
    #1 Hazal, May 18, 2019
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
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  2. ELA

    ELA Valued Member
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    Thank you Hazal! Really useful :)
     
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  3. Hazal

    Hazal Legendary Member
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    My pleasure :)
     
  4. Tom L

    Tom L Well-Known Member
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    Hi Hazal, thank you very much for these tips!

    I was wondering how you would handle the subtle differences when writing for "Please explain why you want to be a solicitor at XYZ firm?" question? Would you explain some tasks that a trainee solicitor might do as well as your motivations for the firm?
     
  5. Hazal

    Hazal Legendary Member
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    Hi Tom, it's not a problem :)

    I personally wouldn't go straight for discussing day-to-day solicitor tasks. I would divide the question equally into "why law" and "why this firm", as that would tackle the "solicitor" part and the "firm" part of this motivational question. This question kind of asks for a blend of the two, so it really wants you to think about practicing law at that firm - what kind of differences might you expect from other firms, do you appreciate those differences and how do those differences motivate you in your path to becoming a solicitor.

    For example, looking at whether a firm is American, International or National might be a good place to start. Dividing your Shearman & Sterling from your Herbert Smith from your Shoosmiths. We all want to be lawyers but do we all want to be the same type of lawyer? I think the question asks for you to articulate some of that. Having said that, though, don't feel like you need to explicitly compare and contrast other firms against your chosen firm. That eats into your word-count.

    Apologies if this is a bit wishy-washy. It's slightly difficult to apply when I don't have a firm to relate it to!
     
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  6. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
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    Just read this now @Hazal and it’s really fantastic! Thank you for taking the time and it’s so well explained!
     
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  7. Hazal

    Hazal Legendary Member
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    Thanks Alice!
     
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