If you are planning to apply for a job in a corporate/commercial law firm in Pakistan then following are a few steps that you may consider following before dispatching your application. In this post, Fareed helps us to achieve success while applying for a job in three steps.
Step 1: Prepare a List…Not a Bucket List…Just a List of Firms
Before you start submitting your job applications, please ensure that you have a fairly good idea of the nature of legal work you want to do and the type of law firm you wish to work for. Certain law firms specialize in litigation, some in transactional work and I have come across a few who specialize in swindling money from their clients. It is therefore advisable to do thorough market research and prepare a list of law firms whose work portfolio and work ethic suits you. The Chambers and Partners website and the Legal 500 website can prove immensely helpful in this respect. Both websites rank the leading law firms of the world based on their recent transactions, client and market feedback. By visiting these websites you can find a list of the top law firms of Pakistan along with a brief overview, website addresses, and at times the names of their key contact person(s). Not all law firms in Pakistan apply for rankings but a visit to the above-mentioned websites is a good starting point.
The next step of course should be to review the websites of these firms and short list the ones that interest you. You should also get in touch with your teachers, seniors, or any legal practitioners that you know, to help you narrow down the best legal employers for you.
Step 2: Your Cover Letter and Curriculum Vitae
Once you have a fair idea of the firms you want to apply to, your next and most important step should be to prepare your cover letter and Curriculum Vitae (CV). The internet is filled with helpful websites highlighting the “dos and don’ts” of preparing a cover letter and CV and you should take guidance from them.
Your cover letter is your first introduction to your employer and ideally it should within three to four well drafted paragraphs explain why you are the ideal candidate for the position you are applying for. A good cover letter supplements and does not duplicate the information contained in a CV. Your CV on the other hand should set out your career objectives, skill sets, academic and extra curricular record/achievements and work experience (if any). The general rule is that your cover letter should not be longer than a single page and your CV should not exceed two pages. The best applicants have the ability to tailor their cover letter and CV according to the requirements and portfolio of the firm they are applying to. If your strategy is to recycle one cover letter for all job applications then beware your strategy may prove counterproductive. You don’t want to be the person who sends the wrong cover letter to the wrong firm.
“If you are or have been a student of Pakistan College of Law, you are in good hands and there will be plenty of people to get advice from. If you are studying at another institute then well…we all make mistakes.”
Now that you have prepared your cover letter and CV and are certain that these documents are worthy of nomination for the Pulitzer…take a deep breath and read through these documents again. Check for spelling mistakes, syntax and consistency of format. Once you are done it is advisable to have these documents reviewed by one of your teachers/career counselors. If you are or have been a student of Pakistan College of Law, you are in good hands and there will be plenty of people to get advice from. If you are studying at another institute then well…we all make mistakes.
Step 3: Submitting Your Application
Unfortunately, very few law firms in Pakistan have a structured application process and so you have to be resourceful. One way to go about things is to get in touch with one of the senior members of the legal team and ask them about their preferred mode of receiving applications. My approach was to get in touch with the senior most lawyer (through e-mail or telephone) because it is generally the senior partner/managing partner who makes the hiring call.
Once you’ve submitted your application make sure you follow up after about two weeks. Send an e-mail to the firm and inquire about the status of your application. If you don’t receive feedback for another week, call the firm’s office and get in touch with the relevant person. Follow ups are important and demonstrate your interest in the organization but don’t over do it, you don’t want to be the annoying applicant every employer dreads.
I suppose the only thing left to do now is to wait for that interview call. If you have worked hard during your law degree and have a fairly well rounded CV, chances are that you are going to get that call soon. Good luck!