As you move into the final seat of your training contract, your mind will inevitably turn to the future - and impending qualification. Remaining with your existing firm may seem like the natural thing to do. But will you be offered what may be a fiercely contested role in your practice area of choice? The period dominated by the ‘waiting game’ can be a time of great frustration and anxiety. Fellow trainees and friends are now competition, and uncertainly is likely to be the only certainty. 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. No doubt you'll have lots of questions. Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions page - specifically designed for newly qualified lawyers.
Speak to BCL Legal
We understand the concerns you will have when approaching qualification. We know that this time is critical, and our aim is to alleviate the panic and uncertainty by giving you options. From informing you about newly qualified jobs as they are announced, through to negotiating offers on your behalf: we are here to help. You may have questions:
- •What are the market conditions like?
- •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?
Contract one of our experienced legal recruiters for advice and a conversation about your options.
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 existing firm for a newly qualified position this could mean you miss out since other trainees will be interviewing at other firms before then. Even if you hope to remain with your existing firm, it would be wise to work on a "plan B". The area of law you qualify into will have a huge impact on your future career. It can be 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. As a newly qualified solicitor it is key that you qualify into an area of law that interests you. Avoid accepting a role internally simply to secure something early. You should make your choice based on the work you have done and skills that you have and wish to develop, rather than based on personalities in the department you have completed a seat in. 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 your ideal role. 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.
Positioning Yourself Well
Whatever your prospects of obtaining a newly qualified role at your existing firm, it remains important to do whatever you can to stay ahead of the game. As one of the largest dedicated legal recruiters outside of London BCL Legal can provide you with an overview of which firms will be recruiting and how you can seek to increase your chances of success.
External appointments, as you might expect, will require you to have a well thought-out and comprehensive c.v. Your c.v. is the ultimate door-opener. BCL Legal can give you specific feedback on your c.v.. However, as a starting point, bear in mind the following:
- • Structure – Keep it simple. Aim to have 4 key sections including education, legal experience, relevant non-legal experience (usually paralegal experience) and personal interests
- • Content – Add flesh to the bones. Seek to provide specific examples of work you have been involved in. Keep the detail clear and concise and in a bullet point style. Identify the type of clients you have worked with and the market sectors they operate in
- • Business Development – Employers to look to their junior lawyers to play an active role marketing themselves and the firm. Highlight any areas where you have been involved. Also include any role in corporate social responsibility initiatives
- • Make it personal – Non work-related interests can be an important means of distinguishing yourself. Technical capability is vital, but employers are still looking for a personality fit. For more information on preparing your c.v. see our pages dedicated to c.v. writing tips.
- •enjoying having a significant profile within the business
- •relishing variety
- •coping well under consistent pressure
- •being confident with research and self-direction
- •being an exceptional manager of time, resource and people
- •being self-sufficient and confident in one's own opinion
- •being robust and comfortable with advice or decisions which might not be popular with internal clients
A healthy degree of nerves is not only a very natural thing, but it will also help you to give your optimum performance at interview. Interviewers tend to expect nerves and will aim to do their best to try to allow you to settle in. Remember that it is a two-way process and, in selecting your for interview, the employer has positively indicated its interest in you. So treat the interview as the opportunity that it is. Any first interview will usually be based upon your c.v. and you will be encouraged to talk through your experience to date. Knowing your c.v. well and being ready to discuss its content is key. The prospective employer will expect you to have a real interest in the role and the firm - so research will be vital. We strongly recommend that you review BCL Legal's interview tips as part of your preparation.
Moving In House as a Newly Qualified Solicitor – Dispelling the Myths
Myth 1: "It is too early to make the move " Opportunities at NQ level are rare, but BCL is seeing increasing numbers of lawyers make the move upon qualification. It will remain important to ensure that you are going to be enabled to develop into a technically competent lawyer. It is important to consider is the team and organisation you are moving to, and what training and development will be provided to you. A large or fast growing company with a healthy approach to legal affairs and an established in house team is likely to be the better fit for a newly qualified lawyer than a small company where you will encounter little insulation to the demands of the business. Law firms are increasingly seeing the benefits of lawyers with in house experience. Those with in house experience often have a clarity about good client service together with enhanced commercial awareness. Myth 2: " In house is an easy ride " This common misconception couldn't be further from the truth. As a permanent overhead to most businesses, in house legal teams are necessarily kept "slim". Resource is usually balanced so that there are very few dips in demand for in house legal's input, meaning that challenges often arise from managing spikes or peaks in demand. The transition from private practice to in house can also be incredibly challenging, and, since no two in house roles are quite the same, it can be difficult defining your role and mapping out legal strategy for the business you serve. In house lawyers working for a global plc might find themselves needing to be available 24/7 and speaking with colleagues from the US/Japan at unsociable hours. Regular travel in the UK and overseas may also be expected. However, because of the businesses in which they sit, in house legal teams are often quite different places culturally than private practice law firms. The move may not be for everyone, but those who thrive in the in house environment often cite the fast pace and the dynamic with the business as representing the more appealing aspects of the job. Those who make a success of a move in house generally do so because they are drawn to the positives of working in house, rather than the perceived negatives of private practice that they are seeking to leave behind. Myth 3: " I’m not a commercial lawyer, so I won’t be able to move in house" Many, but not all, in house roles are focused on commercial law. However, your personal characteristics tend to me more important that your practice area in determining whether you will make a successful and effective in house lawyer. The right aptitude and qualities for the in house lawyer may include: