Articles From the Team

What’s going on with the 2021 NQ market...?

Trainee Solicitors have had a bit of a rough deal of it over the last 18 months...

The whole world has been unsettled by Covid of course, but trainees have coped with all sorts of bumps in the road – longer than average furloughs, delays to qualification dates, feelings of isolation working from home in a role they were just starting to get into the swing of, worries about the quality of supervision and training they have been receiving remotely. Some have even had their training contract cancelled altogether, if their training firm came to the conclusion that they just couldn’t train them in the circumstances.

But in the main, everyone’s come through it and got to the other side one way or another. So what do the sunny shores of NQ-land look like this year? If you’re qualifying this year, you’d be forgiven for being a bit nervous going into the whole thing, but hopefully you’ve been very pleasantly surprised.

What have we seen in the market this year?

After the huge uncertainty of 2020, and the concerns over the impact on the legal profession, right now it feels a little bit as if someone’s taken a cork out of the bottle and there’s job opportunities spilling out all over.

Obviously it’s a bit too soon to tell what the longer term economic impacts of the pandemic are going to be. I mean, it’s not going to be pretty given the scale of the shutdowns and the scale of the public spending to get us through, but I think there’s a general self-protective instinct across the nation to try not to think about that.

For now, there’s no denying that business is brisk. And not just in specific practice areas where you’d expect it to be right now but across most of the legal market, certainly as regards commercial and private client areas.

And that’s been great for the NQ market this year. We’ve seen very high retention rates as firms struggle to cope with the rise in instructions and the wait to get new hires on board in as much of a candidate-short market as ever. The traditional private practice model is to build in organic growth in teams through junior level hires, so we’ve seen a strong level of external NQ roles coming to market, and fewer than usual candidates in the market for them.

This benefits NQs in a variety of ways –

  • Looking to move up from a smaller to larger firm as an NQ? You’re in luck this year as there will be less competition for these roles
  • Good academics but not quite got the right experience? Done commercial litigation but want construction? Done a Real Estate seat but want property litigation? Done applicant employment but want respondent? 2021 is your friend
  • Qualifying too late for the ‘NQ season’? That’s ok, there will still be roles available once everyone’s qualified in September. We’ve even had a couple of firms say they have started to look at March 2022 qualifiers now to fill their roles. Get in touch!

Ergo, if you’re an NQ qualifying later this year or in the early part of 2022, get in touch for a chat about the market now...

...and if you’re a September qualifier who’s exploring some wider options at this stage, we’d love to talk to you.

After the 18 months you’ve all had, let’s face it, it’s about time something went your way!

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