Research Journal

If you are a student looking for a vacation scheme or training contract you should keep up to date on your top 10 choices. Once you have made a list of your top 10 choices it would be prudent to keep an eye on them. Alternatively, if you are a trainee or qualified solicitor you should keep up to date with your current firm, together with any firms that you would be interested at working in the future (even if you aren’t currently looking).

How do I keep up to date?

I do this in a number of  ways:

  • sign up for vacancy alerts (most large firms allow you to subscribe on their website);
  • subscribe to their newsletter, RSS feed and any social media accounts;
  • create a google alert; and
  • keep an eye out for their name in the relevant legal publications.

Any interesting information I come across will then go into my research journal. If you don’t have a dedicated research journal you could add it to the research section of your career journal if you have one of those.

What do I research and keep a note of?

Research information like

  • clients
  • key people
  • internal structure
  • industry news

Also don’t forget to keep a record of good and informative sources. The information you keep a record of will depend on what stage you are at in your career, for example, your research will look very different if you are a student, compared to if you are senior associate.

Why create a research journal?

All sounds great but why bother with the effort? I find that keeping a constant flow of research means that you are up to date. This is great because:

  • it helps you keep in the know – generally.
  • it will help you properly answer the question “Why do you want to work for us?”
  • it will show that you have a legitimate interest in the firm and have not just googled them a couple of days before the interview.
  • it will deepen your understanding of the firm and helps you make the decision about whether you want to work there.
  • if you are researching your own firm it helps you keep up to date with what is going on in your own firm (particularly with what is in the public domain).
  • if you are going for a promotion internally, long-term research can help you stand out and the research journal keeps all your research in one handy place ready for review.