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How legal advocacy can help you upgrade your career

If you’re looking to give your resume an edge, why not do it in a way that will also make a positive impact in the world? Stop the roving eye of law firm hiring managers in their tracks by developing a well-rounded resume that gets the job offer. Legal advocacy is emerging as one way to do more for your community while adding to your range of experience.

Legal advocates work within the legal system on behalf of another person to advocate for their rights or needs. This usually involves working with the underserved, such as low-income tenants, disabled people, or vulnerable children. This type of work can put you ahead of other candidates by displaying how well-rounded and dedicated you are.

Here are the next-level skills you’ll hone through legal advocacy work that also stand out to hiring managers:

#1: Resourcefulness

Your ability to employ different resources in problem-solving can often be the tipping point to being chosen to move through the hiring process. Legal advocacy can help you to develop your ability to engage various resources as you help victims in need.  Hiring managers will see you as someone who is able to support the complex process of litigation, from research and discovery to post-judgment actions.

Seek out legal advocacy opportunities that expose you to multi-pronged projects where you help attorneys with research, developing arguments, applying data, investigating, and client management. These are the types of experiences that will strengthen your resume.

#2: Persuasion

Advocacy can be your fast track to being able to help an attorney artfully deliver arguments. Opportunities, where you get more exposure to the courtroom and assist attorneys in editing and preparing filings, can give you the hands-on experience you need.

For attorneys, persuasion is about applying the rules of logic, effective oration, how to carefully construct airtight arguments, and more. The best way to show off these skills is by applying them during your interview and supporting your statements with examples from legal advocacy experience.

#3: Public speaking

This skill is to the legal profession as performing on stage is to a singer. Your legal advocacy experience should help develop your public speaking prowess.  Work with attorneys who get plenty of courtroom time so that you can get a front-row seat to their public-speaking techniques—and get tons of notes.

Seek opportunities where you can also get practice with public speaking. On your resume and during the interview process, be sure to share specific examples that highlight your mastery of the rules of court decorum and how to navigate them when speaking to the court.

#4: Research and discovery

The discovery phase of any case is a fact-finding journey and is where you gain the knowledge to determine your course of action going forward. At this stage, attorneys are juggling client expectations, the court’s requirements, and their ability to achieve the possible outcome that would be most favorable for the client.

A legal support professional who can juggle these priorities with tenacity makes for a candidate any firm can coach, invest in, and keep around to support a variety of workflows.

#5: Dispute resolution

Learning to help facilitate the dispute resolution process is a skill that can benefit employees across the firm. Your experience should be steeped in understanding effective communication that leads to a mutually beneficial, solution-focused road to resolution.

Dispute resolution includes mediation, arbitration, and other phases of the litigation process that attorneys handle. This process varies between areas of practice, in terms of what is at stake for the litigants involved. So, be sure that your advocacy experience puts you on the front lines of supporting attorneys in client dispute resolution that aligns with your professional interests.

Becoming a legal advocate is not just a resume-builder, it’s an opportunity for you to delve into the community service aspect of the justice system. It can require a higher level of commitment to altruism to be successful at completing projects as an advocate. It can also help you do the leg work required in discovering untapped needs, opportunities for justice reform, how to create more meaningful interactions with clients, and help you build rapport with your local courts.

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