Once you have completed your training contract you will be a qualified solicitor and quickly become specialised into a defined area of law. On approaching qualification, as a trainee solicitor you will take into account a number of factors when deciding on your NQ role. Many newly qualified solicitors prefer to stay at the firm at which they trained – they are familiar with the firm, the culture and have established a friendship group with fellow trainees. This is undoubtedly the easier option for both sides, as after all, the firm has invested time and resources in training you and would prefer to recruit a newly qualified solicitor they know and have nurtured. However, don’t be led into accepting a role internally in a role that is not your preferred choice simply to secure something early.
When you quality into a particular practice area this can mean you quickly become pigeon holed and find it hard to move into a different discipline later down the line. Avoid becoming drawn into panic, take a step back and seek advice to ensure you have considered all options and are moving into an NQ role that is right for you long term. Some trainee solicitor prefer to move firms on qualification, attracted by for instance a more suited role or practice are to them, higher salary, location, job progression or security.
I was approached by a property lawyer recently. This person was 6 months into a commercial property NQ role, which they accepted at the firm they trained at rather than explore external options in the market in commercial litigation which was their preferred seat. Unfortunately due to competition in the market this NQ has been unable to secure an alternative NQ role in commercial litigation, and they look to be pigeon holed in a transactional role at least until the market becomes more confident and retrain roles more prevalent.
The lesson is, consider your options and seek advice early. Don’t feel loyal to a firm simply because you have trained there, if they can’t offer you the NQ role that you are seeking do look elsewhere. It could be the best long term career decision you make.