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Qualifying as a Solicitor in 2013

Qualifying as a Solicitor in 2013

For many trainees, now is the time to be moving into the final seat of your training contract.  The final seat can be a nerve wracking prospect, not only because the last eighteen months have gone so quickly, but because you are facing the prospect of qualifying as a solicitor – reality begins to set in and as the months tick on things start to feel suddenly more serious than before.

The first challenge is to make sure you choose your final seat wisely – try and secure more experience in the area of law you are looking to qualify into, and be aware of market conditions.  With areas like commercial property and corporate showing real signs of recovery, final seats in these areas can put you in a good position to qualify.  The second challenge is to overcome the anxiety and uncertainty of the next few months – with fellow trainees and friends at other firms in the same position you need to rise above the competition and put yourself in the best position possible to secure your chosen newly qualified role.

As a newly qualified solicitor it is essential that you make your decisions carefully.  Ensure you are choosing your options based on the work you have done and skills you have, rather than personalities in the department you have completed a seat in.  You may have gelled well with people in a particular team, but people move on.  This is a big move for your future long term career – it’s crucial that you choose carefully and qualify into an area of law that interests you.  Although there may be opportunity in the future to move into a related area of law, is very difficult to change discipline entirely after qualification because of the necessary re-training involved and competition in the market from candidates with more suitable recent experience.  It is now that you need to consider what type of lawyer you want to be, the kind of firm or company you want to work for and what to you would be the perfect job.

In terms of timescales, firms make decisions on who and how many newly qualified solicitors they are looking for at very different times over the coming months.  The core time for movement in the market is generally when the new financial year is in place, as firms will have set new budgets and considered September qualifiers in that process.  As the market is still reactive though, many firms won’t decide until as late as July, or even August, if they are going to take newly qualified solicitors. This is particularly the case at smaller firms where the process can be less structured, so it you wait and rely on your own firm retaining you this could mean you miss out on other options in the market.  Do not feel a sense of loyalty to your current firm, this is a key business decision and you need to think about whether other options can present better quality work, progression and a more suitable role for you.

At BCL Legal many consultants have been solicitors before and understand exactly the concerns you will have when approaching qualification.  We know this time is critical. We are here to try and take the uncertainty and panic out of the process by giving you all your options, informing you about newly qualified jobs as they are released, and negotiating offers on your behalf to ensure you move into the best role you can on qualification.

You will no doubt have questions you want to ask. 

• What are the market conditions like?
• Are there likely to be jobs in my preferred area of law?
• What are the timescales leading up to qualification?
• How do I prepare a CV and position myself for upcoming interviews?
• I have an offer from my current firm but it’s not in my first choice discipline, should I accept or keep looking elsewhere?
• Can I negotiate on salary?
• Will I will be able to move in-house with my skills?

Take a step back and seek advice early to ensure you have considered all options and are moving into a newly qualified role that is right for you in the future.  Some trainee solicitors prefer to move firms on qualification, attracted by a more attractive role or practice area better suited to them, higher salary, more convenient location, job progression or security.  It could be the best long term career decision you make.  Our experienced legal recruiters at BCL Legal have addressed many of these concerns in recent qualification talks at our Manchester office . If you missed these talks, or would like additional information either now or in the coming months, please contact Louisa Phillips.

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