The time is here for second year legal trainees to turn their attention to the exciting prospect of qualifying later this year. Many firms have already begun to release their internal lists of qualification roles. This can be a daunting and nerve-wracking time for many, yet it should also be a time for excitement at the prospect of a potential new direction, geographical location or simply a consolidation of the solid groundwork you have put in so far. 

Here are a few Top Tips that should help you in your search:

  • Register with Search – we can give you some constructive bespoke CV or interview advice; information about the market, salaries, timeframes, prospects, options, working in house, or tips on geographical moves (within Scotland, London or Channel Islands). This is the time to register before roles start getting released, to make sure you maximise the time now to get your thoughts set in motion and CVs ironed out.
  • Don’t panic! There are lots of options available to you at this stage of your career, despite variable retention rates in the last few years. Many of the NQs we have been working with in the last few years that were not kept on by their training firm have now found jobs.
  • Think long and hard about which practice area suits you. A legal career is usually a long one and you will certainly be putting in the hours wherever you end up. Make sure that you think about which area of law suits you best – because of the work, not because what your friends are doing or because you had a nice boss. People come and go and that nice boss might move on to pastures new in a few months time.
  • Polish your CV. Again, we can help with this and give you specific advice and precedent CV templates to assist. But now is the time to get on and tackle this head on. This is your tool to securing an interview and poorly written or constructed CVs simply will not cut the mustard in this competitive market. Make an effort. Tailor your CV to every role and go the extra mile.
  • Do not flood the market with your CV – keep a check and record of where your CV has been sent to.
  • Fully immerse yourself in your current seat and get as much out of your training contract to help with your CV skills and experience. Volunteer to be on the court rota if you are in a litigation seat now and are missing some advocacy skills; write an article for a marketing/BD initiative or help organise that marketing/BD event. Ask for more/a certain piece of work to fill in any gaps in your experience that you feel are there.
  • Be as flexible as possible. Whether it be geography, salary or practice area, candidates are being required more frequently to think about challenging their initial ideas. This is the start of your career and it may be that taking a “hit” on salary for the sake of a few thousand pounds may actually set you on the career path that you have always dreamed of. We appreciate that this is not ideal and that you have worked very hard to get to where you have, but candidates are facing a tough market and a flexible and adaptable approach will certainly help to secure a role quicker in the current market.

And perhaps most importantly - stay positive! For more information or NQ advice, please email me: [email protected] 

Good luck!