Juliet Lawson
Juliet Lawson
Associate Director

Articles From the Team

I’m a March 2020 qualifier – how soon do I need to start looking for an NQ job?

Ah – the eternal question. Qualifying in March rather than September can definitely be a bit of a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, there are far fewer NQ opportunities in the market than there are in the usual hectic summer NQ season, but on the other hand, you’ve got a lot less NQ competition for any roles that do come to market.

What sort of opportunities do we see for March qualifiers?

Roles for candidates qualifying in March tend to come about in a number of circumstances:

  • A firm took on an NQ in September and for whatever reason, it just didn’t work out and they left. Maybe they didn’t get through their probation; maybe it was their second choice practice area and they managed to find something in their top area of choice; maybe it wasn’t the location they wanted and they couldn’t face a long commute over the winter…
  • A firm took on an NQ in September and thought about taking on another junior recruit as they’re busy but wanted to ‘bed in’ their initial recruit first. They’re still busy and they decide to go to market for another NQ
  • Because, as can happen at any time of the year, there’s been an uptick in workflow and the new instructions would suit a junior lawyer
  • Someone fairly junior decides to leave, and they want to replace them, and will consider NQ upwards

March 2020 feels quite a long way away yet, but if you’re qualifying at the beginning of March, chances are you’re now already in your last seat and you know what practice area you want to go in to.

As with all NQs, if you want to stay with your training firm, it’s important to start having conversations with your employer about potential opportunities as soon as possible. Chances are, they won’t have the same structured NQ process for March qualifiers as they do for September qualifiers, so you might be able to address this in a more informal way. However, some large top tiers have a similar-sized intake for March as they do for September and they will have exactly the same process for each. If you’re at one of these firms, find out what this looks like, and the timeframes involved so that you can work your NQ job search around this.

The bottom line is – NQ roles can come out at any time of the year. Because it’s a smaller market, there isn’t the same concentration of roles in the months leading up to March, so if you’re in your last seat now, get your CV ship-shape and ready to go as you can add to it as you build further experience during this seat.

If you need support and advice on this, please call us and we can steer you in the right direction.

If you’re looking to qualify into an area where you’ve already completed a seat, the right opportunity for you could pop up at any time in the next few months.

If you’re looking to qualify into the area you’ve just started in your final seat, you will need to get at least a couple of months’ experience under your belt before you’re likely to be considered for an NQ role.

As ever, we’re here to advise, so if you’re unsure about anything, please just pick up the phone and we can have a confidential, no obligation conversation.

You can find similar content in our Careers Advice for Trainees + NQs section.

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