Articles From the Team

I'll soon be an NQ lawyer, should I have a job backup plan?

The end is in sight! You’ve completed your degree, perhaps the GDL, the LPC and now two years as a trainee. You’re about to become a solicitor, but first, you need to find out if you’re being retained. It’s a tense and nerve-racking time. That's why I was really surprised to learn that 71% of newly qualified (NQ) lawyers have no backup plan if they don’t get an offer with their existing firm.

It’s a good thing to be optimistic and keep your eye on the prize, but you’ve got nothing to lose with a backup plan.   

What should a good backup plan look like?

I suggest the following approach:

  • Plan A (the ideal firm)
  • Plan B (one factor isn’t ideal e.g. the location/the size of firm/range of work etc.)
  • Plan C (other practice areas)
Ultimately, you need to weigh up the factors that are most important to you in your legal job search. As a legal recruiter, I facilitate this thought process on a daily basis and in my conversations and relationships with lawyers I try to retrieve this information at the outset (and throughout as positions will inevitably fluctuate). Sometimes, it's overwhelming to know exactly what you want; talking to those around you always helps.  

London NQ lawyer market

A prime example of the above is this year’s NQ commercial property market in London. It’s been unusually quiet and a range of national and regional firms are actively seeking newly qualified lawyers in various locations, including Guildford, Reading, Bristol, Cambridge and Birmingham. If Plan A hasn't or doesn’t come to fruition, then this an example of a feasible Plan B. My point is, there are still plenty of opportunities available. The NQ window is open for a short period of time each year, so make the most of it – and every opportunity you can!

Getting clear on what’s important to you

I’m a firm believer in keeping an open mind in any job search in general. If you don’t, you can miss out on legal job roles that might provide exactly what you’re looking for! Alternatively, it might be that Plan B or C will provide you with the experience you need to help you achieve your long-term legal career aspirations.

If you're concerned a Plan B or C will risk your chances of landing an NQ role at your current firm, don't be. A credible legal recruiter will never breach your confidentiality. They'll act discreetly and will always have your best interests at heart. A good legal recruiter understands that this is a pivotal moment in your career. 

If you’re approaching qualification and you’re not being retained (or you don't know yet), or you’re not completely happy with the opportunity that’s in front of you, get in touch. BCL Legal recruitment consultants specialise in each practice area and location; we’ll provide you with a clear picture of each market and what this means in relation to your legal job search and backup plan.

Lastly, don't feel too disheartened if you don't get offered an NQ role at your current firm; you've already achieved so much and if you take a step back and think 'big picture', this is a very exciting time!

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