The process of becoming a lawyer in the UK is not an easy one, with good reason. Our country rightly believes that those entrusted with the keys to our legal system must be as prepared as they can possibly be for the task. Thus students wishing to become either solicitors or barristers in England and Wales are required to overcome an extensive series of hurdles and qualifications. If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re well aware of how tough this can be.
The additional test that goes unnoticed
The thing is that even after completing the necessary examinations, pupillages and apprenticeships required by the government, most graduating Lawyers in the UK still have one more test to pass before they can start their careers in law. This test is both the most important and by far the most overlooked. Most law firms in the UK now include a specific test as an essential part of their interview process. This is usually either a verbal reasoning test or else a similar critical thinking assessment known as the Watson Glaser test.
What is a verbal reasoning test?
Verbal reasoning tests are a form of aptitude tests used by law firms and legal in-house departments to find out how well a candidate can assess verbal logic. The most popular type of verbal reasoning test format is true/false/cannot say. Companies such as SHL, Talent Q, Saville and Kenexa publish this test format, However, formats that are based on multiple-choice questions have also gained popularity in recent years. The purpose of these verbal reasoning tests is to evaluate a candidate’s ability to comprehend, analyze and interpret written text.
The current situation and how this affects job recruitment
The reality is that despite the various difficulties mentioned in choosing the field of law, the UK has become inundated with lawyers in recent years. As one in every 401 citizens of the UK are lawyers, the UK has one of the highest populations per capita of lawyers in the world.
Current trends show no signs of us losing this illustrious title. This growing supply has obviously placed a greater emphasis on sifting through the workforce to find the best talent available. As a result, verbal reasoning tests are becoming increasingly standard in the recruitment process for both law firms and other businesses with legal departments.
So what does this mean to you?
First of all, just being aware of these tests is a huge advantage. Many graduates with impressive grades or credentials are caught off guard when first presented with a verbal reasoning test at a job interview. Studies show that stress has a large influence on results so this is vital. Secondly, the skills required to excel in these types of tests are not simply innate and can be greatly improved through the use of practice tests and gaining a better understanding of how verbal reasoning tests work.
Finally we should be conscious of the larger effect tests like these are likely to have on our legal system in general. The placement of verbal reasoning tests as the final barrier our lawyers need to cross, a dramatic shift has been created in our concept of what is considered a skilled lawyer.
From here on out simply being able to memorise lots of laws is no longer enough. Lawyers today are also expected to possess actual intelligence and reasoning skills. I personally believe this shift is long overdue.