group of nine trainee solicitors in a law firm's office

Trainee Solicitors: what you need to be thinking about right now!

For most people in the UK the summer period is something to look forward to.  Some much needed warm weather, a holiday away, the World Cup, music festivals, the list goes on….

However, for Trainee Solicitors coming into the last few months before qualification it can be a time of great anxiety about their future.  Below is a brief guide on the main things all Trainees need to consider as they approach this crucial qualification time.

1. Should I stay or should I go?

A key issue to reflect upon is do you want to stay at your current firm?  Some Trainee’s will already know that they want to stay or leave, but if you are unsure there are a number of factors to consider:

  • Is your current firm likely to offer you a job on qualification in an area you want to specialise in?  It is essential you think about what legal discipline you want to practise in. What you qualify into will often dictate your specialism for the rest of your career. Opportunities to re-train/move legal discipline after qualification aren’t that easy to come by.
  • What is career progression like in your current firm?  You should be able to have some measure of this from the time you’ve spent in the firm and be able to decide if it matches your personal timetable for advancement.
  • Loyalty – don’t miss an opportunity because of loyalty to your training firm. Yes you may be grateful that they offered you that first step in your career but it’s important to make an objective decision.
  • When will your current firm decide on their own September NQ roles?  Timescales vary at each law firm and if you wait to hear what happens at your own firm, you may miss out on other external opportunities.

2. Important things to consider

If you’ve decided you are going to look at external options, then it’s important to have considered a number of parameters that will determine what options you can look at.

  • Location – Be as flexible as you can on this. Will you relocate for the right opportunity to work in the area of law you want?  Is the legal discipline you wish to pursue a career in more important than the location of the law firm…. or visa versa? Have you thought about working offshore/overseas?
  • Type of firm/culture that you want – e.g. large commercial firm versus small and very friendly local firm etc
  • Career Development – When looking at external NQ jobs, do consider what the structure of the team is that you’ll be joining and if there is the career development you want.
  • Specialisation – Can you be flexible on the area of law that you will qualify into?  Would you consider more than one area to specialise in?  Be careful when applying to firms not to apply for too many unrelated practice areas at the same firm.
  • Work life balance and if flexible working is needed
  • Job security – consider what areas of law are growing in demand and others that are disappearing, e.g. there are few senior PI opportunities.

3. Using a recruiter

For a lot of Trainees working with a specialist legal recruiter may be a new experience, especially for those who have gone straight into their training contract after their academic studies.  It is important to realise there are a number of advantages to using a long established, well respected and specialist agency such as Chadwick Nott:

  • We can talk you through the process and assist and reassure you at each stage.  A lot of the consultants at Chadwick Nott are former lawyers and have been through this ourselves. 
  • We have extensive knowledge of the law firms and their departments/teams and can provide this information to you. Many Chadwick Nott consultants have been doing this job for well over 5 years, some for over 10 years.
  • We understand the interview process and can help you build your confidence dealing with competency questions, written tests and panel interviews. We carry out mock interviews for those you need/want it
  • We can help you with CV drafting and content – we understand what the firms are looking for
  • We can provide salary advice
  • Most importantly, law firms send us their jobs and their requirements. We are on the Preferred Supplier List (PSL) for most if not all large law firms and deal with so many other firms – small and niche all over the UK. 
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