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As you move into the final seat of your training contract, many of you will start to wonder where the last eighteen months have gone. Starting your training contract seemed daunting at the time, but suddenly, as you are faced with the prospect of qualifying as a solicitor reality begins to set in and things start to feel a little more serious than before.
The period between now and September can feel like an eternity, and the ‘waiting game’ can be a time of great frustration and anxiety. Fellow trainees and friends are now competition, and it’s essential that you remain ahead of the game to position yourself in the best possible light to secure that all important newly qualified role.
Many firms won’t decide until as late as July, or even August, if they are going to retain their trainee solicitors. If you rely on your own firm to retain you this could mean you miss the boat as other trainees around you are interviewing at other firms early. Look after yourself and seek advice from a consultant at BCL Legal. Many of us have been solicitors before and understand exactly the concerns you will have when approaching qualification. We know this time is critical. We are here to try and take the uncertainty and panic out of the process by giving you all your options, informing you about newly qualified jobs as they are released, and negotiating offers on your behalf to ensure you move into the most suitable role for you on qualification.
As a newly qualified solicitor it is essential that you think widely and most importantly, qualify into an area of law that interests you. Don’t be led into accepting a role internally simply to secure something early. Ensure you are choosing your options based on the work you have done and skills you have, rather than personalities in the department you have completed a seat in. People move on, and it’s highly unlikely you will be working with these people in five years time. The area of law you qualify into will have a huge impact on your future career. It is very difficult to change discipline after qualification because of the necessary re-training involved and competition in the market from candidates with more suitable recent experience. It is now that you need to consider what type of lawyer you want to be, the kind of firm or company you want to work for and how far you would be prepared to travel for the perfect job.
You will no doubt have questions you want to ask.
- What are the market conditions like and am I likely to be able to secure a role in my preferred area of law?
- Will I will be able to move in-house with my skills later in my career?
- I’m interested in a non-fee earning role, is this going to be possible at my level?
- I have an offer from my current firm but it’s not in my first choice discipline, should I accept or keep looking elsewhere?
Avoid becoming drawn into panic, take a step back and seek advice early to ensure you have considered all options and are moving into a newly qualified role that is right for you in the future. Some trainee solicitors prefer to move firms on qualification, attracted by a more attractive role or practice area better suited to them, higher salary, more convenient location, job progression or security. It could be the best long term career decision you make.
Our experienced legal recruiters at BCL Legal will address many of these questions in a series of newly qualified career discussions, taking place in February and March. More details will follow soon for all 2014 careers talks.