Juliet Lawson
Juliet Lawson
Associate Director

Articles From the Team

NQ solicitor jobs Leeds: season still going strong!

Well, we’re nearly in September after an interesting and buoyant NQ solicitor jobs market in Leeds this year.

From talking to people across a wide range of firms, the vast majority of this year’s Leeds NQs have found roles they’re happy with. There are certainly still a few people out there at the coalface – interviewing and waiting to bag that perfect role – but in the main, the season is starting to slow down on the candidate side.

That said, just like last year, roles are ongoing – they’re still being released – even at this late stage in the season, and it’s likely there’ll be unfilled roles for some months to come. Last year, we still had roles, some of them with top tier firms but in more specialist practice areas, that remained unfilled at Christmas!

“Why couldn’t the firms get their act into gear sooner and release the roles months ago?” “That’s a great role, why didn’t it come to market earlier? I would’ve applied for that but I’ve now accepted another role!” are the familiar refrains.

Sometimes an NQ will ‘back-pocket’ a role they’re offered at their current firm when ideally they’re keeping their powder dry for a role in a different practice area or a different location but they’re scared of ending up with nothing.

The reasons why roles continue to go live at this point vary. Sometimes an NQ will ‘back-pocket’ a role they’re offered at their current firm when ideally they’re keeping their powder dry for a role in a different practice area or a different location but they’re scared of ending up with nothing. Once they eventually find the role that’s a better fit for them, they pull out of the process at their current firm. Disingenuous? You could argue that but frankly, if there’s ever a time in a solicitor’s career when they need to look after number one, it’s on qualification. The firm will get over it and move on; the NQ has got his or her career on the right track.

Firms are more hesitant to hire without a justifiable business case than they were a decade ago. Especially at the national and international firms where practice groups operate nationally – it takes a capacity report and a full business case before they get the green light on a signed-off role. If they’re in this position at the end of August that’s just the way it goes. Or they might win a big new contract and that creates an immediate need to recruit whatever the time of year.

Are you still looking for an NQ job in Leeds?

For those of you still looking for the right role, it’s going to feel quite stressful right now. Find yourself a good legal recruitment agency that’s made of up ex-lawyer consultants who have been there!

You’ll get all sorts of conflicting advice from your friends, colleagues, parents and bosses. A couple of urban myths to debunk here:

Whatever people tell you, it isn’t fatal for your career to have a short break on your CV upon qualification; as you grit your teeth and hold out for the role that sets you on the right career path

If that feels too scary, it also isn’t fatal for your career to take a role in a different practice area while you keep looking for the right role in the practice area you want. Just don’t leave it too long: six to 12 months tops ideally

However, our genuine advice if you’re in this position at the moment is to consider other locations for the right role (if you’re able to). You get the experience you’re after and it doesn’t have to be forever.

We’ve still got some great roles in Leeds with top tiers, second tier nationals and a couple of regionals across commercial litigation, employment, pensions, property litigation, projects, regulatory, banking litigation, construction, banking, commercial, real estate, real estate finance, planning and residential development.

The Leeds market remains the fastest growing legal market in the country. Genuinely, there aren’t enough trainees progressing through the system to meet the need so there are probably more NQ roles in Leeds than most other major cities. It’s a vibrant city with loads to offer.

If any of these practice areas are just what you’re after and you’re interested to find out more, please get in touch: Juliet Lawson or James Mills.

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