Donna Jones
Donna Jones
Senior Associate

Articles From the Team

2021 NQs... We’re here to help!

NQ season is upon us and the good news is that the market is booming!

We have a record levels of vacancies and the concerns that most of you probably experienced during your training contracts about qualifying during a pandemic have luckily proved to be unfounded.

Firms on the whole experienced stable and unexpectedly high revenues last year and the slight pause that we saw in recruitment during last summer, has given way to a huge demand for good NQ lawyers this year now that most firms have finalised their internal NQ recruitment processes.

As a trainee approaching qualification, you have a lot of options so it’s time to consider those options carefully and make the right move.

For those of you yet to secure an NQ job for September (or whenever it is you might qualify) or have accepted a less than ideal position and now have hesitations (whether that’s based on salary, location or practice area) then please get in touch and we will have an open and honest conversation with you about how we can (or cannot) help. It’s important to recognise that at this point in your career you are highly desirable, firms can mould and train you within their own cultures before you pick up any perceived bad habits.  Demand has overtaken supply so we’re definitely in a candidate driven market which is great news for you.

With remote working set to continue long term we are also seeing a noticeable shift in the usual regions people can work in so this is opening up the market and possibilities that were previously closed off may now be very viable options.

The NQ level is a great time for candidates who have trained at smaller high street and regional firms to take the step up to larger regional and national/international firms where salaries are up to £50k, coupled with excellent prospects surrounding quality of work, clients and training.

We are also seeing firms relax their usual academic requirements where good training has been obtained and they can see clear potential.  The hands on experience you will have gained at a smaller firm can often set you apart from some of your peers.  A commercial approach and business development and client management skills are of particular importance to firms in today’s market.  If you can demonstrate skill in this area it will go a long way.

Firms are even recruiting candidates into positions where they don't have direct experience.  This is particularly true in banking, tax and construction so don't be put off enquiring about a particular job because you haven't had a training seat in the area.  You'll be surprised at how many transferable skills you will have gained during your training.  

Finally, don't panic if you haven't got a standard September admission date, given furlough, we are likely to see staggered qualification dates this year and we envisage continued demand for NQ solicitors throughout the year.  However, if you are a 2021 (or early 2022) qualifier get in touch now so that we can secure you a position and take away the uncertainty over the summer period.

If you do find yourself without a job come qualification then focus on continuing to gain legal experience, whether that be in a paralegal role or even through volunteer work at your local Citizens Advice Bureau or law centre.  It will ensure that your CV has no gaps in it and demonstrate to potential employers your determination in pursuing your legal career.

This would of course be a last resort and in all honesty, in the current market, where demand for newly qualified solicitors is outstripping supply, we are confident of being able to help you secure the right job for you.

For a confidential discussion on newly qualified jobs, please contact Donna Jones at BCL Legal.

Whilst I specialise in the placement of solicitors into Birmingham's leading commercial firms, BCL Legal has a wide network of legal consultants who can help with your job search nationwide.

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