Law: Qualifying in 2016?

There is good news. Economic growth, reduced trainee intakes and the lack of people qualifying into certain areas over the last five years all mean that you are qualifying into a far more buoyant market than when you started your training contract.
The newly-qualified market in the Midlands caused a lot of problems for law firms last year; most had more vacancies than they did internal trainees. This meant that there was a substantial increase in external vacancies and many NQs had the luxury of considering different options. This is different to circumstances three years ago.
Conor Farrell, Managing Consultant at Michael Page Legal in Birmingham talks you through how to approach the market as a newly-qualified legal professional.

So which areas of law are busy?

In 2015, there has been a real appetite for transactional NQs in the Midlands and this is unlikely to change in 2016. Firms have been clambering for the best talent in real estate, corporate finance, tax, banking and restructuring. Trainees who undertook a strong seat in any of these areas were likely to receive three or four offers from different firms.
Other areas of law where there is likely to be an appetite to recruit NQs in 2016 include:
  • Litigation
  • Clinical negligence
  • Pensions
  • Healthcare (contentious and non-contentious)
  • Residential property
  • Insurance litigation

I currently train at a small firm – can I make the step up to a larger firm on qualification?

In a nutshell, yes, but it does depend on the quality of your training contract and the area of law you would like to qualify into.
The larger law firms are open to candidates from different backgrounds (including smaller firms, public sector and in-house) and we have helped NQs at regional firms move to national and international firms. Partners appreciate that there are definitely hidden gems who landed training contracts at smaller firms due to the economic conditions at the time.
We will be upfront and honest with you from the outset about your chances of securing a ‘big move’ on qualification.

I don’t want to stay in the Midlands – can Michael Page Legal help?

Yes. We have teams and consultants based throughout the UK. We have a track record in helping Midlands NQs secure roles in the London market and into other regions.

When do I start looking at the market?

Most firms in the Midlands will release their internal job lists around May but partners will already be thinking about where potential external jobs may come up. Stand-out second year trainees will be earmarked for certain departments already and firms will know where there may be gaps.
We had September qualifiers interview with some Birmingham firms as early as January this year because partners were looking to get ahead of the competition to secure the best talent. In particular, we helped a number of real estate NQs secure positions as early as February – some six months ahead of qualification.

My CV is out of date – how do I tackle it?

While qualification may seem a while away, you should get your CV up to speed now and then you can keep adding to it in your final seats. This way, your CV will always be up to date and when internal/external positions become available you are able to put your name into the mix straight away. 
Michael Page Legal can help you with your CV. We are running a number of one-to-one workshops in our Birmingham office where we can talk through your CV and help you get it in the best shape possible. 

I may want to stay at my current firm on qualification – can I still register with Michael Page Legal and attend your CV workshop? 

Absolutely. We appreciate that a lot of trainees will want to stay at the firm they are training at. Your firm will still want to interview you for an internal position and it’s likely you will face competition from other trainees. We can guide you through this internal process as well as any external options.

I haven’t had an interview in years – help!

We will guide you through the entire process and when you secure an interview, we will meet with you again and help you prepare. We have strong relationships with partners and firms - we know what they are looking for and what is likely to come up in an NQ interview.
Here’s some initial interview advice to put your mind at ease. 
We work with a full range of law firms from small regional private practices through to international organisations. Please get in touch today for an initial confidential discussion about the NQ market and to register your interest in attending one of our one-to-one CV workshops.
Prior to joining Michael Page in 2012, Conor worked for four years at international law firm Squire Patton Boggs in Birmingham as a Corporate Finance solicitor having trained and then qualified at the firm in 2010. He recruits solicitors into private practice from NQ to Partner level across the West and East Midlands.
For a confidential discussion about Midlands opportunities contact Conor Farrell, managing consultant at Michael Page Legal in Birmingham.
T: 0121 634 8800