Angharad Warren
Angharad Warren

Articles From the Team

Is it the right time to change jobs? Book in a legal career review with us

As a solicitor (as with most professions), you will spend more time working than you do on any other activity. It is therefore vitally important that you enjoy what you do. We can get stuck into a comfortable trap when we know our jobs inside out but rarely does that make for job satisfaction.

As solicitors, most of you will probably enjoy learning. We can forget this sometimes but I always get a sense of excitement from lawyers who I've placed into new jobs where they feel they are learning again. A job that challenges and stretches you can awaken a new love for your career that you may not have felt since your hazy university or trainee days when the prospect of becoming a solicitor was quite wondrous.

You may feel undervalued in your current job; a lack of recognition or a clear path to progression up the ranks can give you the feeling of treading water. To feel fully satisfied in our jobs most of us like a sense of purpose. Sunday night blues shouldn't be the norm so if you dread Monday mornings, ask yourself why? In all likelihood there is a more suitable job out there for you.

There are some key points in your career when you should take stock and review where you options:

1. Upon qualification - this should be a really exciting stage of your career. Ask yourself; are you happy at your training firm? Is it the best platform from which to launch your career? Should you challenge yourself and take a step up to a larger firm which can offer you more complex work? Are you unhappy at a prestigious, national/international firm? Would a smaller firm be a better fit for your personality and aspirations? There are always so many options out there for newly qualified solicitors that I'd recommend that every single one of you that isn't 100% happy at your current firm call us for a confidential chat about your career with no obligation to go beyond that chat. At this stage of your career, you can make jumps that are near on impossible further down the line; for example we have placed a number of newly qualified solicitors from high street firms into top international firms this year. The market is buoyant so don't fall into the trap of thinking that a larger commercial firm wouldn't be interested in you if you've trained at a smaller firm. The degree of competition for an NQ job is light years away from the competition you would face in trying to secure a training contract at one of those firms and NQ salaries are generally between £40-£42k.

For those of you looking to qualify into real estate, given the buoyancy of the market, this type of hire is being made more and more frequently. Larger firms really rate the training that many of you will have gained at smaller firms as it tends to be more 'hands on' and it's likely that you will have had to juggle competing demands from various partners. Conversely, we have placed NQs that have trained at larger firms into smaller regional or niche firms where they feel they share common values and where, for a more 'rewarding' career for them personally, they have been prepared to take a hit on salary.

2. The 'sweet spot' of your legal career is the 2-5 PQE level. At this point in your career you are very appealing to potential employers as you are experienced, hopefully still enthusiastic and ambitious yet not prohibitively expensive. There are always an abundance of roles at this level so again we would always recommend you call us for a career review at this point.

3. For those of you at the seven plus PQE level and a feeling that your career aspirations are unlikely to be met at your current firm, again this is a good time to review the market. You won't yet be expected to have a full client list to move to a new firm although you should have started forming a decent network of contacts. You are best placed to do this at a firm where there are good prospects for progression as there seems to be one key differential between those that reach the top jobs and those that don't; the ability to establish and develop client relationships and introduce new revenue streams to your firm.

Not all of you will aspire to partnership, we are frequently instructed on Director level roles where the level of commitment is generally less of that required to make partner. It is up to you which trajectory your career takes. Talk to us and we can at least point you in the direction of the opportunities that can make your career ambitions happen.

While some of the larger firms often get a 'bad rap' for overworking staff, most have really taken on-board the new wave of young lawyers who have equal dedication to their careers and personal lives and part-time, flexible and agile working options are encouraged by many of the big players. Very often smaller firms can't compete with the level of flexibility that larger firms can offer as team sizes are too small to accommodate, so don't write off a larger firm on the assumption that the hours will be horrendous and you will be a slave to your work, sometimes it can be quite the reverse.

Based on what you want from your next move, we can talk you through the options that would suit. We can give you the inside scoop on hours of work, personalities within teams, work type, client base, where there's a need for succession planning and even what the social scene of a particular firm is like. What is really important is that you are happy. That you don't wake up every morning dreading what the day has in store for you and that even at the more senior end of your career you are still enthusiastic and interested in what you do.

As a solicitor, it's not just a job, it's your life. It's a career that you've invested a lot of time in. Don't be one of our 'lost lawyers,' speak to us and see if there is a better option out there for you and if it turns out that a career as a solicitor is no longer for you then we're also on hand to talk to you about other options; I moved into legal recruitment at BCL Legal over five years ago following a seven year career at a law firm, qualifying in 2005. One of my best friends retrained as a doctor shortly after qualifying deciding that the legal profession just wasn't for her. Although I can't say I'd find another six years at university all that appealing...

Whatever your circumstances, whether you have decided that it is time for a change or if you are sitting on the fence then pick up the phone and call us. It might turn out that there's another option within your current firm that could work for you or we may have the ideal role at another firm. A career review with an experienced consultant should help you form a clearer view on what your next move should be (and that may well include remaining where you are).

For a confidential discussion about your career, please call Angharad Warren at BCL Legal. Angharad specialises in the placement of real estate and commercial lawyers into Birmingham's leading firms.

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