Juliet Lawson
Juliet Lawson

Articles From the Team

The pitfalls of a newly qualified solicitor jobs search

Newly qualified solicitor jobs season is well underway again – how did it come around so quickly?! In Leeds, activity seems to be early again this year. A good range of NQ roles have already been released across Real Estate, Projects, Corporate, Banking, Employment, Pensions, Clinical Negligence, Construction, Residential Development and Commercial…

Yet, it’s still the case that the fastest growing legal market in the UK has a significant candidate shortage across most disciplines. There are never as many trainees coming through the ranks in the national and global firms in Leeds as there seem to be in Manchester. This can be a good thing if you’re a second-year trainee who’s qualifying this year.

However, we’re already seeing some of the same issues and problems arising. We totally get it. This is the first time you’re looking for a job as a qualified solicitor, and for many of you, it’s also the first time you’ve worked with and instructed a legal recruitment consultant.

However, there’s both a good and bad way to run your legal jobs search. By definition, the ‘good way’ will provide you with the best opportunity to find the right job within a decent timeframe; the ‘bad way’ will cause you a lot of grief and leave you feeling quite stressed, and possibly empty-handed.

So here are some of my top tips, the do’s and don’ts of how to run your NQ job search…


  • Engage a good legal recruitment consultancy who knows the market and is on the PSLs for all the firms you’re likely to be interested in - two at the very most
  • Keep control of your CV and ensure that it’s never sent to a firm without your express prior authority – be very clear about this when you engage a consultant
  • Make sure CV submissions are focussed on specific roles
  • Keep a list and don’t allow duplication
  • Have a solid first choice of practice area and if you need to, look as geographically-wide as you’re able
  • Have a second and possibly third choice. In good time, start applying for roles in these choice brackets if your first choice is looking tricky
  • Consider external alongside any internal roles at your current firm, especially if your firm’s internal process starts later than others
  • Keep updating your CV with more experience if it’s relevant to the area you want to specialise in
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare for every interview you get. See our interview prep tips here


  • Register with a new agency every time you see someone advertising a role that looks interesting. Chances are, your primary legal recruitment agency is instructed on this role, so ring them and discuss it
  • Allow an agency to pepper your CV around the market ‘on a speculative basis’ – commercial firms do not recruit NQs on this basis, they release specific NQ roles to their PSL and only at that point do they accept CVs
  • Put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t assume you’re certain to land the internal role you’ve “kind of been promised already.” It might look like a done deal, and it may well be a done deal, but speaking from someone who was in that position, believe me when I say things aren’t guaranteed until you have that offer in your hand
  • Put all your eggs in one basket with one practice area in one location, unless that market is awash with jobs and not awash with candidates
  • Wait too long before you start exploring the external market alongside the internal role/s you’re going for, or you might miss the boat

The NQ season can feel like a kind of circus at times, a bit of a juggle and a bit of a gamble, but play it right with some solid advice from an experienced professional legal recruiter, and it can be a breeze.

For a no-obligation chat about your options in Leeds and surrounding areas, you can call me on 0113 323 6146. Or email julietlawson@bcllegal.com.

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