We remain firmly in the throngs of the NQ season and whilst a number of firms have officially concluded their internal processes there are still roles that continue to emerge.
With qualification looming it is easy to become despondent however throughout this month we have seen a number of instances where circumstances have changed and teams that previously had indicated there would be no vacancies are now looking to recruit.
It goes without saying that it pays to continue to explore options externally and we continue to be close to the market and are working on a number of NQ roles nationally. Against that backdrop, I thought it would be useful to highlight some of the more common enquiries we receive. Of course direct dialogue is always favoured but I hope that some of the answers below go some way to assist:
I do have an offer internally but I’m not sure it is right for me – Do I accept?
This is always a tricky one. Some areas will be busier than others (Insurance Litigation, Commercial Property and Construction are busier) and give rise to more roles than in other disciplines. Sometimes that means that you may get an offer but not be 100% sold on the discipline.
The question of whether you accept or not can depend on a number of factors, not least, the time pressure you may come under to accept.
Whilst accepting and then moving on is not the ideal situation, the overriding factor must be looking out for your long term career interests. Ultimately, in the face of an offer and in the absence of something elsewhere, the sensible advice is to accept. In doing so, this does not preclude you from looking elsewhere – sometimes, it can enhance your marketability as it is clear that your current firm is seeking to retain you.
If I do commit to a role, can I change discipline further down the line?
The simple answer is yes but as with all things it is more complicated.
The greater the synergy/overlap between your current discipline and the one you wish to change to, then the easier it will be. The thing to recognise is that it is a candidate rich environment (at the moment) and in looking to make the move across, you will come against candidates who have direct relevant experience and, rightly or wrongly, firms will place stock in that continuity and the greater ease by which other candidates may transition across.
Moving over from diametrically opposed disciplines becomes much harder and harder still if it is a complete vault face e.g. moving from private client roles to commercial or banking.
That is not to say that resistance will always be met and we will always seek to sell transferable skills.
What areas are currently busy?
As things stand, a fair proportion of the roles that we have seen in Manchester have been with more niche areas including non-contentious construction, banking and insolvency although there has been an increase in commercial property roles.
Areas that have been quieter include commercial litigation (insurance litigation and professional negligence roles are the exception), employment and corporate. That is not to say that roles have not emerged but rather firms have not been compelled to look externally having the option of a number of internal candidates being interested in those roles.
As an NQ, am I able to look at in-house role?
Whilst the number of potential in-house roles tends to be smaller than NQ roles within private practice, we have seen (and placed) a number of candidates at the NQ level moving into in-house roles.
Those candidates with strong corporate and/or commercial seats tend to be in pole position and those that have had secondment experience (and so have first hand knowledge of what it would be like) achieve a more elevated status. However personality and commerciality remain key drivers as teams will often be small and they will want to be certain that you will fit within the group dynamic and the business ethos.
It can be an early time in ones career to move in-house and often candidates favour gaining invaluable experience within private practice. Nonetheless it an option worth considering.
I am still looking for a role – is it too late?
Hopefully the message above is clear. It is not too late and certainly not time to panic yet. Roles continue to emerge and we will always do what we can to highlight these to you. We will always try to think laterally and run past roles that may initially not sound quite right but which we feel have some synergy with what you have told us you are looking for.
Should I consider paralegal or temporary roles?
Absolutely. These things may not be absolutely perfect but what they can provide is all important continuity of experience in the area that you ultimately wish to qualify into. Financially some firms have not been able to offer NQ roles but try to retain people by bringing them on as paralegals with a view to a solicitor role in the future. I have seen that work in practice. It can mean a longer process towards qualification but it is always better to be on the path than not.
We are always happy to talk through the pro’s and con’s of such moves.
I want to keep my net cast wide – can I apply for more than one role at a firm & at different locations?
Again, the simple answer is yes. Different firms will operate in different ways but for the most part accept that NQ’s can be more flexible in their attitude towards location and, often, on discipline. If you do want to consider a number of locations then it is best to speak about that from the outset as it allows us to manage that sensibly and to be open with firms.
Of course, the questions above are a mere snapshot of the enquiries we deal with daily and so are by no means exhaustive.
The NQ market remains active and if you have additional questions or want some general advice about your options then do give us a call.