What skills do lawyers typically need?
Lawyers typically need to be well rounded individuals who balance commercial awareness and business acumen with good people skills and strong verbal and oral communication. As the practice of law and the business of providing legal services modernises and adapts, those with strong project management, numerical and analytical skills and even better, data and coding ability will succeed.
The more traditional skills of research, teamwork, attention to detail and creative problem solving remain essential, as does the ability to process information both written and numerical, quickly and accurately, assessing data for inaccuracies and patterns.
The very best lawyers will also have strong management and leadership skills, and able to manage a team as well as their own workload. They should be able to think strategically, have a highly developed social confidence and be able to influence others in adopting their way of thinking.
They should also have self-awareness, be driven and able to work well under stress or pressure particularly in producing accurate work to tight deadlines.
What psychometric tests do legal firms use to assess these skills?
Law firms have adopted a more thorough process for assessing job applicants, particularly at graduate level where the application process for a trainee or paralegal job often occurs before the candidate has finished their legal training.
Law firms are using psychometric tests to assess potential and other skills which can then be considered alongside a candidate’s legal and business knowledge.
Typically a law firm will ask a candidate to undertake a number of psychometric tests, often taken one after the other, which consider the rounded skills of a candidate, including critical thinking, situational judgement, verbal reasoning and logical reasoning.
Watson Glaser and critical thinking tests
The Watson Glaser test is one of the most well known critical thinking tests. Law firms want to employ individuals who are able to think for themselves and make informed decisions rooted in fact that can be justified and are free from bias.
Critical thinking is both a skill and something which can be practised and developed. It is particularly important for lawyers to be able to critically analyse arguments and presentations of facts by clients and make decisions without having to involve others.
The Watson Glaser test tests five areas of critical thinking to compile a picture of how well a candidate can recognise assumptions, evaluate arguments and draw conclusions. This is done by presenting information in five areas: inferences, assumptions, deductions, interpretations and evaluation of arguments.
For each area of testing candidates must read a short paragraph and then answer short questions based on the information contained therein, with the information contained in the paragraph assumed to be factually correct.
For further advice, check out our full set of tips for Watson Glaser tests.
Situational judgement tests
Situational judgement tests consider how a candidate might respond when faced with workplace scenarios appropriate to the kind of role to which they have applied. After reading or watching a workplace based scenario, the candidate must rank the responses provided, usually from most likely to least likely, or which best fits how they might respond in any given scenario.
Situational judgement tests allow employers to consider whether the candidate shares the appropriate values for the role and workplace. Scenarios which might be particularly appropriate in the context of a law firm might relate to decisions regarding ethics, bribery, confidentiality or prioritising workload – especially last-minute client instructions when a more senior member of the team is unavailable.
The answers that you give are not right or wrong but give an insight into how you would approach work, particularly in relation to teamwork, communication and decision making - basically assessing your competency to perform the role in the particular environment (rather than your legal knowledge).
Verbal reasoning tests
Verbal reasoning tests allow an employer to consider how a candidate understands and makes deductions based on written passages of text. They assess language and comprehension skills as well as the ability to apply reasoning and logic to their decision making.
Typically you will be invited to read a passage of text and consider whether a specific statement is true, false or you cannot say. You could also be presented with multiple choice answers and invited to pick the correct response, which could be implicit or explicit within the text.
Verbal reasoning is key for lawyers, who will be expected to be able to read and interpret a wide variety of written information, from client instructions to legal documents, statutes and case law through to commercial documentation. It is vital that candidates can demonstrate their ability to read and accurately summarise and interpret written documents.
Logical reasoning tests
Much like verbal reasoning tests, logical reasoning tests are designed to understand how well a candidate can deduce accurate information from a presentation of facts, which may be in a written paragraph or may be presented as a data table or in the form of shapes. It assesses interpretations of patterns and relationships, as well as data.
For example, it is important that lawyers can accurately assess the difference between fact and assumption, and indeed identify where the assumption is. Lawyers should also be able to identify and apply rules to data or information.
You will also need to demonstrate you are able to apply logic in your decision making and have strong problem solving skills.
Logical reasoning tests can also indicate how you might respond in relation to taking risks and even in relation to forecasting and projecting how a case or decision might pan out, which is a crucial skill when assessing which cases to take on or not.
LNAT and LSAT Tests
For students who are yet to work in the law industry you may need to take an LSAT or LNAT (https://www.practiceaptitudetests.com/admissions/lnat/) test as part of the selection process for Law School.