Given the economic climate, many firms are still taking much longer than usual to make decisions on recrutiment. This will continue until they can see more consistency in workflow; however on a positive note there were considerably more roles for Newly Qualified Solicitors this year than last year.
As a result of the restrictive market, candidates need to be as flexible as possible, whether this means considering alternative work types or locations, and we can’t see this changing for some time. It’s critical to make sure we know what is important to you and where the flexibilities lie.
To help us to help you as efficiently and accurately as we can, we need to know as much as possible about what you're looking for, when you qualify, what sort of work you want to do and where you want to do it.
Whilst it would be impossible to predict exactly where roles will emerge next year, looking at ongoing recruitment would be a strong indication of the areas that are likely to be busier: Employment, Litigation, and Defendant PI have all remained relatively robust throughout and more recently we have seen increased activity within Corporate / Commercial, Commercial Property and Construction. There are numerous considerations for Solicitors approaching qualification and we have tried to deal with those raised most frequently in the articles below:
This decision is critical to your future career. Whilst it may be possible to retrain later, most people remain in the area they qualify into for the rest of their legal career. The decision also affects many things, including
Your job mobility
Your earning potential
Your career potential
The types of practices you can work for
Whether you can work in-house at a later stage, and crucially, how much you enjoy your career
|Important considerations include:
Which seats you have enjoyed. Why you enjoyed the seat - it is important to remove any issues relating to personality of individuals, good or bad, as you are hoping to make the right long term career decisions, not selecting who you might work with for the next few months or years. Think about, and take advice on, where this route might take you longer term. Will it allow your career to evolve? Could it give you the earning potential you desire? Could you get bored with it? If you have a clear preference for one area of law, ask if you can return to that department for your last seat. This not only gives you a better base of experience from which to apply for new roles if you want to look at external roles, but it can also confirm that you are making the right decision. If you are genuinely interested in more then one area of law, it is perfectly possible to look for roles in both. Take advice as to the potential availability of roles. If you are selecting a particularly competitive area, you may need to be more flexible geographically or in terms of the nature of roles you're interested in.
|When do I start looking for a new job?
National / large regional practices – traditionally most don't start their internal selection process for September qualifying lawyers until March / April, decisions being made in April / May. This has, however, been later in recent years – even as late as June and July.
Smaller / mid-tier firms - they are less structured in their approach, many leaving it until later in the Summer.Get an early idea of the market: firms can often give internal applicants an idea of where and how many roles there are likely to be, often from mid-way through the 2nd year of training. This is useful but doesn't guarantee a role. At this stage it may help to speak to a recruitment consultant as they should be able to give you a feel for the wider market and where they expect the roles to be - by reference to discipline, geography and firm type. They should also be able to give you an idea of timescales.
Move or stay on?
If you have already decided, irrespective of the availability of any suitable roles, that you don't want to remain with your practice, then it may be sensible to speak to a consultant up to nine months before you actually qualify. Their advice as to the market, current opportunities and what that can mean for your career longer term, may help you shape your search. In turn this may help in shaping the remainder of your training contract. It would be unusual for there to be much activity, by way of considering specific roles, until Easter (for September qualification); however they can start to prepare you for the move and advise on CV content.
If, however, there is a chance that you would like to remain with your current practice, make sure they know. Make it clear to both Personnel and the Partners. They can't read your mind! In considering if this is the best opportunity for you, take into account:
The quality of work
Clients - type, size, sector
Training - consider both classroom and less formal support
Personal matters - location, salary, future career opportunities, working hours, conditions
Reputation of the practice for that work type
If you are not sure on any of these issues it's worth considering what the wider market has to offer and comparing those opportunities with the potential within your current practice. A consultant should be able to give you an objective view of how your firm compares to others within the market, along with their reputation for your chosen area of work. It could be that external roles can't offer you anything better than staying put, but at least you will have the satisfaction of knowing that and hopefully some peace of mind that you've made an informed decision that is the best for you and your career in the current market!
What does a consultancy do? How should they work?
The role of a recruitment consultant is easy to define, but how well it is delivered can vary enormously. They should:
Advise on career choice and direction
Advise on the market and opportunities within it
Assit with CV preparation
Make applications on your behalf
Brief you ahead of interviews
Advise you on the process between accepting an offer and starting your new job
Choosing the right consultancy
It is critical that you find a recruitment company that can represent you well. Making the right choice can not only make the whole process easier but also significantly affect how successful it is. When choosing who to work with consider the following:
- Do they have someone specialising in the geographical region in which you are looking to work?
- Have they got an established reputation within the type of organisations you would like to work for?
- Are they interested in finding out what they really advise on your career and what is best for you personally.
- Ideally they will ask to meet you.
Are they recommended?
Whilst many recruitment companies have the same roles, the companies vary hugely in how they work and the quality of their people. We can't stress enough how important it is to find one that you feel can represent you the most effectively and open the doors for you. It's not just about sending a CV.
If you have a very specific geographical remit, you may well only need to register with one recruitment company. If you select the right one, they should have the breadth and depth of contacts that will remove the need to register with others. This means that you keep full control of the process, there being no opportunity for duplication of CVs. It also ensures that you receive clear and unbiased career advice throughout.
If you decide to register with more than one company, ensure that under no circumstances do they send your CV anywhere without your consent. Ensure that approaches are for specific roles and with your express consent. This is critical as duplication can be detrimental to your prospects of securing an interview.
NB It is now illegal for any consultan to send your CV anywhere without your consent
General practices can pay considerably less but do vary. Again your consultant will be able to advise on specific firms.
Salary will depend on the type of work you do. Work for commercial clients (eg Corporate / Commercial Property) will pay considerably better than work typically done for individuals (eg Family / Private Client).
National practices - have fully comprehensive packages and there are few differences between them, the major benefits being: Pension, Healthcare, Critical Illness Cover, PHI – more recently bonuses have started to form an increasing amount of the remuneration
Mid-tier / niche commercial firms - most offer Pensions, some offer Healthcare, not many offer Critical Illness Cover or Flexible Benefits schemes.
General practices - there is a huge variance in what benefits are on offer. The vast majority of firms who don't have their own Pension Scheme must now offer access to a Stakeholder Pension.
Transfer of training contract:
Although not common, it is possible to transfer training contracts. The ability to do this really depends upon the nature of the practice, their requirements and your experience, as well as the availability of other candidates who may be able to qualify earlier. Your recruitment consultant will be able to advise as to the realistic prospects of achieving a transfer and what to look out for in doing so.