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The market for newly qualified solicitors in Leeds and Yorkshire has been reasonably buoyant this year and as we approach the end of September many of you will have now started your new jobs. Some of you will have stayed on with your training firm and others will have moved on to pastures new due to a lack of suitable (or any!) opportunities at your firm. Ideally, you will be working within your chosen field however, for many of you, comprises may have been made; you may have always dreamt of being an employment lawyer but qualified into your second or even third choice. This isn’t to say that in the long term you won’t be pleased that fate dealt you a different hand. It is important to remember that if there are a lack of roles and an oversupply of candidates in your preferred area at the moment it is likely that competition for roles will still be stiff and roles limited as you move on during your career. It is perhaps the sensible option to look to qualify into an area where there are a shortage of good solicitors so that moving forward in your career, your skills set will remain in demand.
For those of you that are still looking for an NQ role, the good news is that there are still a number of positions out there at leading national firms in Leeds. These roles are predominantly within commercial property which we would consider a great area to qualify into. There are a shortage of commercial property lawyers at the 1-5 year level so it is likely that your progression along the career ladder will jump up a couple of notches faster if you do decide to specialise in this area.
We have seen a marked improvement in the commercial property market generally over the past 18 months with virtually all of the leading firms recruiting into their teams at various levels, particularly at the NQ level. Government incentives have meant that house building is well and truly on the up and it is clear that there is a focus on taking action and bringing confidence back into the housing market.
And it isn’t just residential development work which has picked up, there is huge demand for commercial property lawyers with expertise in the full gambit of commercial property matters including commercial development, regeneration, asset management/landlord and tenant work and so on. The related areas of property litigation, construction, real estate finance and planning are all busy too.
This demand means that firms are being very open minded about who they meet for interview and ultimately who they are offering roles to. So, if you have trained at a smaller regional firm but have good commercial property experience don’t feel that your training firm will prohibit you from applying to the large national/international firms. At the NQ level, providing you have a good academic background and show the drive and determination to do well at a larger firm then you will be of interest.
This first step as a newly qualified solicitor is an important one and granted, it is difficult to move into a different area once you are practising, so a great deal of thought needs to be taken when deciding which discipline to qualify into but our advice would be to be open to different disciplines and to really think about what made you enjoy various seats more than others. For example, you may not have enjoyed commercial property at your firm but may enjoy it at another firm depending on the team, partners, particular work type etc. Property is a very real, tangible and exciting area to work in, with excellent progression prospects for young lawyers so if you are still looking for an NQ position and would like a confidential discussion about your career please contact the team at BCL Legal 0845 241 0933.
Angharad Warren, Consultant, Yorkshire and North East Private Practice