Resilience in Law

By Hannah Frost


Resilience is a key skill and Oxford Languages defines it as the ability to recover quickly from difficult situations. This is important as a definition because resilience can be confused as meaning your ability to keep going no matter what. It’s not about that. Although to be resilient you need to recover quickly from difficult situations you also need to know when to stop and when to slow down. If you needed to take a year out of university for any reason that doesn’t mean you are not resilient and if you may need a year out don’t make anyone convince that taking a year out means you aren’t resilience because resilience isn’t just about your ability to keep going throughout impossible situations. I think taking a year out and returning to education may be a useful example of resilience. Especially if you did well in education after that year – it shows your ability to recover from difficult situations.

You may wonder why resilience is so important to law firms. This is because a legal career is challenging. Being a trainee is challenging. Most training contracts you move departments every six months, others every three to four months. This is essentially adapting to a new job, a new team just as you’ve got used to the one you were doing before. You need resilience to get through the training contract itself and not give up on your legal career.


You are going to make mistakes. The firm needs to know you are okay with this, that you won’t let not being perfect eat you up until you quit. Many qualified solicitors say that a training contract is the time to make those mistakes as they hopefully won’t end up as drastic as if you made the same mistake once qualified. Your being supervised; your work is being checked. There’s a reason for that. This final stage in qualifying is on the job learning, mistakes are inevitable. The important thing is that you can handle the pressure. This is important because when firms recruit trainees, they are making an investment and are looking for trainees that will qualify into the firm and hopefully work up the seniority level, staying with the firm for life.


The final reason resilience is so important is because clients can be difficult. You’ll know this if you’ve had any sort of work experience that involves direct interaction with the public. You need to know how to handle these difficult clients whilst remaining emotionally healthy. If you work in personal legal services you need to know how to handle the high emotion that comes with clients especially in an area like employment, family, crime or personal injury where the client is going through a really hard time. In business services, businesses can be demanding, difficult, inflexible. It can be hard work dealing with clients and the key is to not let them discourage you.


So how can we demonstrate resilience on our application forms and in our interviews? You do not need to have gone through something seemingly impossible to demonstrate your resilience. If you failed an exam but kept going and improved or got a 2:2 or third and kept going and improved that’s resilience. Even if you didn’t improve, continuing when grades are not on your side takes a lot of courage. your second, third, fourth or even 5th application season? That is also resilience. So many people will have just found an alternative career path some the third application season.


I think we can all find a time in our life where we have demonstrated resilience, either personally, professionally, or academically. If your struggling to find one, then dig deep. If you are really struggling to find an example of your resilience, then maybe try and push yourself out of your comfort zone more often. Find things that test you and your sure to develop your resilience. Resilience is like a muscle. It needs exercising to develop so go out and develop it.

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