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Kissing frogs

I read an article in The Lawyer recently about the US firm Jones Day’s extensive hiring spree in the City in which the London head, John Phillips explained that they have a rigorous recruitment process and admitted that “we kiss a lot of frogs” to find the right candidates. I’m glad I haven’t recently interviewed with them and not heard back!

This got me thinking about the number of solicitors to whom I speak that are looking for a new job and say: “I think I’ll just focus on the interview with X for now” often out of some misplaced loyalty to a firm that has requested them for interview. Law firms do not limit themselves to just one interviewee, hoping that that person will be the right fit unless they have no choice. Ordinarily, they will see as many candidates as possible that fit the general profile for the role and quite often meet candidates that do not fit the ‘essential criteria’ at all. I have had many a discussion with in house recruiters and partners about a role for which they are recruiting, during which I am told that candidates ‘must be’ at least X years’ PQE with a ‘city’ background and ‘must have’ experience in X, Y and Z. Fast forward to a month later and not a single applicant has applied and we find that suddenly an NQ from a small regional firm with experience in A, B and C would do the job wonderfully. Cue me banging my head on the desk. I digress.

My point is that if law firms are going to interview as many people as possible to find the right person for the job, likewise, job seekers should shop around for the best role for them. If you can, interview with several firms to give you a better idea of what type of firm and role will suit you best. Starting a new job can be stressful and you spend an awful lot of your time at work, so it’s important to get the right job.

Back in the day when I was in practice (I still have nightmares about it), I was looking to relocate with my then boyfriend, now husband, to his motherland – Wales. We decided Cardiff would be most suitable for a couple of young and thrusting lawyers (not) and set about looking for jobs. I found what looked like a dream job with an ‘international’ law firm in an apparent quasi PSL role but more behind the scenes and less technically challenging – right up my street. When I was asked for interview I was ecstatic. In the lead up to my interview I was informed about another employment role with another firm in Cardiff although this was a standard fee earning role. This really didn’t seem very appealing at all but I was convinced by my agent that if I was going for one role in Cardiff I ought to keep an open mind and submit my CV for the other. Another interview request shortly followed. So, I rocked up to the first interview for my ‘dream job.’ 10 minutes in and the dream job had turned into the JOB FROM HELL. There was nothing ‘behind the scenes’ about it at all – this was an ‘in the full glare of the spot light’ scenario. Part of the role included delivering training to all fee earners in the team and to clients up and down the country. It would be academically taxing, high pressured, fast paced, long hours and quite frankly utterly hideous. I couldn’t get out of that vast conference room quick enough.

I then trundled off to the next interview feeling very deflated. However my interviewers were nice and friendly and told me that they tried to ensure that everyone could focus on the work they most enjoyed (although I thought ‘enjoyed’ might be rather optimistic). They told me that I would be able to focus on contentious or non contentious work or a mixture of both depending on my preferences. This was completely at odds with the jobs spec I had seen but was music to my ears. I was most definitely not suited to tribunal work – I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than do ‘public speaking.’

So, my advice to all solicitors who are thinking of changing jobs, don’t just pin your hopes and dreams on one job. See what else there is out there, keep an open mind and go through the short term pain of interviewing. You might have to kiss a few frogs before you find ‘the one.’

For more information about legal opportunities in Bristol please contact Georgina Inson on 07469146754 or visit our website BCL Legal.

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