Let me start by saying congratulations! Completing your training contract is an incredible achievement and a significant career milestone. It’s important to take the time to appreciate all of the hard work and dedication that you have put in to get this far. For many of you, this can also be an uncertain time as you consider the next steps in your career. I have put together some key points to consider while you are making the transition from trainee solicitor to a qualified lawyer. Whether you decide to remain in the firm that you trained in or have decided to explore other options the below tips will help you to make the right choice.
If you are considering moving to a different firm, do your research on the type of firm you would like to join for example; size, legal ranking and location. Ask yourself what the most important factors are to you in your search and what would attract you to join a firm. This can help you in the event that you receive offers from multiple firms. Don’t rule out smaller firms as they can offer a lot more responsibility for NQs and a wider variety of work early in your career.
Before applying to a new firm or accepting any offer ask yourself the following questions:
What practice area do I most enjoy?
What area matches my skillset?
Does this group offer strong career prospects and career development?
Do I see a long term future in the firm I have trained in?
Should I move to a different firm as a qualified solicitor?
How many other NQs are applying to my preferred area? (This can be important as areas such as Corporate and Litigation are usually the most popular and a reason why you may not secure a position can simply come down to numbers).
Work life balance is always a topical area within the legal industry. As an NQ solicitor, it can be tough and the hours can be long and unpredictable. You need to make your own accommodations to cope with this and find the right firm that can offer you the right work life balance and right cultural fit. However, if you find the right firm and the right cultural fit, you will find that your work life balance will improve. Evaluate the culture of the firm, is there a culture of long hours or is it just something that is required when there is a project deadline or a busy period within your department.
Cultural fit is an important area for NQs to consider and should be given as much consideration as choosing your practice area. Every law firm has a different culture that they value and want to maintain, this is why they work hard in selecting the right people to join their firm. Do your research and ask yourself;
What are the people like?
Are they involved in CSR?
Do they actively support diversity and inclusion?
Do they support your continued growth, learning and development?
Is there a social scene?
As trainees you are some of the best connected people – remember this and use it to your advantage. Don’t just use firm websites to do your due diligence, ask your friends for a first-hand account of what a team, practice area or firm is really like on a daily basis.
If you are approaching qualification and are unsure of your next steps, hopefully, the above will be helpful to you. If you have any questions or are looking for further advice on your transition to an NQ solicitor please do not hesitate to get in touch for a confidential conversation:
Senior Consultant – Legal