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What to do if you're interested in a legal job but don't have the experience
I’m often contacted by lawyers, particularly at the junior level, who are really passionate about an area of law but feel as though they don’t have enough experience in it, and therefore, enough experience to apply for a role. A good example of this is real estate law (more on this below).
A general rule
More often than not, lawyers are required to have a training seat in the practice area they're seeking to apply to or post qualification experience in the area. Job specifications often state a requirement of lawyers with “excellent academics” or “training at a comparable firm”.
However, there are times when a firm is willing to look more widely at a lawyer's experience; usually reflective of the market. A prime example of this at the moment is real estate lawyer jobs.
Currently, real estate is the busiest practice area I'm recruiting for. I focus solely on the Leeds and West Yorkshire markets and there are no signs of the market slowing down, particularly at the junior end.
I'm currently working on a number of roles with fantastic firms ranging from the top tier down. In a candidate light market, firms are increasingly willing to consider lawyers who don’t quite fit the ideal specification, because put simply, there aren't enough real estate lawyers to fill the jobs.
What the exception looks like
Perhaps you've carried out your training in a smaller firm and have a really solid grounding in residential property but haven’t had as much exposure to commercial property work (as yet).
Alternatively, you might have commercial property experience from a smaller firm but feel you won’t get a look in at the national/international firms because you haven’t worked on the multi-million-pound deals.
If you’re concerned you don’t have the right level of experience for a role but have seen a job ad and are interested, or you're at the early stages of your job search and want to explore the market, my advice is to get in touch and have a chat.
If you're a lawyer whose academics don’t quite fit the job spec, or you trained at a smaller firm, think of the experience you've acquired during your training or post qualification and make sure you include your strengths on your CV. For example, if by virtue of being at a smaller firm, you've had more hands-on experience and have had to think on your feet a lot, including an example of this on your CV.
Alternatively, if you've only had limited exposure to real estate work and the majority of your training is residentially focussed, be specific as to the tasks undertaken. For example, if you've participated in business development activities or attended training sessions in an attempt to increase your knowledge, include this on your CV as this will help to demonstrate the drive and passion you have to succeed as a real estate solicitor.
If you're a newly qualified solicitor or a solicitor at the early stages of your career looking for a real estate role, please get in touch for a confidential discussion about the market.