What competences do law firms look for in their situational judgment tests?

Law firms tend to have a very clear idea what they’re looking for. These are called “competences“.

Qualities might include the following.

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?

Proactive mindset

Are you naturally inquisitive with an openness to new ideas and the initiative to turn them into practical results?

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?

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?


Do you have the confidence to collaborate, seek feedback, share ideas and build credibility through your interaction other people?

Organised, with keen addition-to-detail

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?

Commercial awareness

This is a pervasive skill throughout the entire process, although it is rather unlikely there will be specific questions in the verbal reasoning tests (or situational judgement tests). It’s critical that you develop somehow a develop of commercial awareness. It’s very hard to advise on this, but you need to develop an understanding of how markets and businesses operate, and this could include a range of areas such as finance and accounting, marketing, strategy and operations and leadership. It’s difficult to demonstrate these skills in a recruitment setting, but you might want to demonstrate how you have implemented business skills in real life, done some relevant work experience or internship, read the FT, the Economist or The Lawyer.

The Legal Awareness Society, run by BPP students for students in law and business but entirely separate from BPP, promotes the importance of law and regulation to business , and their website also has news to do with commercial awareness updated virtually daily. Their website also has educational videos on topics you are likely to face in your commercial awareness interviews at corporate firms for training contracts, including arbitration, climate change and the law, competition, corporate social responsibility, debt finance, e-commerce, employment and pensions, intellectual property, IPOs and rights issues, islamic finance, joint ventures, share acquisitions, and technology and media.



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Background to competences