Articles From the Team
Newly qualified solicitor? How to make sure your law firm is looking after you!
With September just about upon us, many trainees are gearing up to begin their career as a newly qualified solicitor (NQ).
This can be a daunting and stressful time (as it is for most people moving jobs), but let’s not forget your life’s work has been headed for this point: stepping out of the shadows; announcing yourself as a qualified solicitor!
So, you start your new job and life is great… Then the work begins to pile up, you’re asked to deal with matters you haven’t dealt with before and whilst your training was good, the fact you only had a 6-month seat in your discipline seems to be forgotten. Not to mention the added pressure you’re likely to put yourself under in order to make a good impression.
The level and style of training a trainee lawyer receive varies, and it’s important for law firms to recognise this. Law firms must support NQs in every way possible. Let’s break this down. (The pointers below are based on regular discussions I’ve had with NQ solicitors.)
Is the firm meeting the mark when it comes to its own supervision and training? There’s nothing worse than starting a new role and not having the support of a line manager. The same can be said for a lack of correct training.
It’s important to note that NQ training – much like that of a training contract – will vary. Some NQs handle their own matters from day dot, whereas others assist senior solicitors (so the hands-on experience may be lacking). It’s important these factors are recognised and a firm’s training programme is adapted accordingly.
Team fit is so important. You’ll be sitting with these people for the majority of your week and the last thing you want is to feel unhappy or uncomfortable in the presence of your colleagues.
Making an effort to feel comfortable is a two-way street: it's not just down to you. The firm should make an effort to foster team bonding. Be it welcome drinks or a team-bonding day.
As mentioned above, a lot of NQs will encounter matters they’ve never dealt with before, so it’s paramount law firms and managers continually identify areas for improvement to help with learning. Ultimately, this breeds independence, so the time and effort a firm or line manager put in at the beginning, pays off for all in the end.
There are plenty more ways to reveal whether your firm is looking after you or not; the above are just a couple of key identifiers that come up the most frequently. (Maybe I’ll write my next blog on a few more.)
Remember, your legal career has only just begun, so you want to get off to a good start; this isn't determined by the amount of work and effort you put in. Your employer needs to do the same. You may be qualified, but you're still a young lawyer and strict supervision and guidance is a must.