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As a newly qualified solicitor at the starting point of your legal career there is certainly an emphasis on the firm you choose. Do you stay with your training firm or seek other options elsewhere? It is equally important to choose the right discipline that you wish to qualify into. You are at the beginning of your legal career and the choices you make at this point can have an impact of the rest of your career.
During your training contract you benefit from experiencing a broad range of disciplines in key areas. You are able to rotate through different areas of law gaining experience without much certainty of where you will end up upon qualification. Often you will have the SRA’s traditional four-seat structure mixing ¬contentious and non-contentious work. When I speak to trainees who are coming up to qualification most have a good idea of the seat they want to qualify into, which tends to be ‘the one they enjoyed the most’.
The choice you make is very important. It tends to be the area in which you spend the rest of your career so it requires some thought. It is not impossible to change to another speciality later on in life but it can be complicated and lead to unwanted and unnecessary stress.
I speak from personal experience. When I qualified as a Solicitor in 2010 the market wasn’t as buoyant as it is now and choices were limited. I am currently recruiting for newly qualified positions in commercial, corporate, employment and litigation roles across the East Midlands and East Anglia. The market is extremely buoyant and newly qualified solicitors are very much in demand.
Personally, during my training I enjoyed the civil litigation side of personal injury. However, I qualified into employment law and the majority of my work split covered non contentious matters and advisory work. The aspects I enjoyed the most during my training were the advocacy, county court litigation and the highly paced mixture of fast and multi track files. At the time I qualified I was pleased to have the security of a legal job upon qualification and did not consider the option of looking at other firms. I liked the firm I trained with; I was familiar with the work and liked the people I worked with. I think it is important to think outside the box, and consider other options and ask yourself the question, what area of law would I want to be practising in five years time?
It is not impossible to move from areas of discipline, particularly if they have connection such as commercial property and construction, however to get yourself off to a good start, think about what discipline you enjoyed the most during your training seats and most importantly ask yourself the question; “why did I enjoy that aspect?”
Maybe your firm are able to offer you a NQ role in the seat you want, great! It may be your training firm have another position available but not in the area you wish to qualify into. You may need that job on qualification or want to remain with the firm you trained with. There is always the option to consider moving as an NQ to another firm that can offer you that discipline and training in the specialism you desire. All very important questions you need to consider ensuring you keep yourself safe in securing, not just the NQ job, but the legal career that you will enjoy and therefore thrive on.