As a newly qualified lawyer, this is the one time in your career where the world is your oyster and there are many options open to you. The decision you make now will narrow your options in the future so it is important you take your time and consult with Michael Page Legal in order to make the right decision for you. You may wish to move to a different law firm, make an in-house move, work in the public sector or work for a bank in a legal or front office capacity? You may wish to re-qualify into a different area of the law or may be a recently qualified barrister looking to go into private practice. You may even be thinking about leaving the law altogether? All of these are possibilities but choosing the right path can be tough.
Your area of expertise?
If you are nearing the final stages of your training contract you will be asked to select your choices of where you wish to qualify. Think long and hard about this as choosing your area of expertise is key. It is a decision about your future career and should not be taken lightly. Recent research suggests that the average professional spends more time planning one summer holiday than their entire career. How short-sighted but what a fantastic opportunity for those who take their career seriously! It’s time to think about your short, medium and long term aims.
Think about what you want out of your career; the type of role, the hours and where you see yourself in 5 years time. If you have a definite goal, gain experience that will get you there the quickest and don’t choose an area where you will find yourself facing a brick wall in a few years time. If you don’t have a specific goal, choose a route that broadens your experience and skills, thereby keeping your options open.
Once you have decided where you want to specialise you need to start thinking about the type of firm/organisation you want to work for. Self awareness is a key component to this. When choosing your new firm/organisation, you need to consider whether they can offer you what you want. Ask yourself what factors are important to you and prioritise these. Some factors of what to consider are training, level of responsibility, salary and any particular specialism of that firm/organisation.
Try to keep an open mind about the firms/organisations you would like to approach – the interview process is a fact finding exercise for you as much as anything else. It is only at the interview that you will get a real feeling about the firm and the people that work in it, and we always recommend looking at a broad variety of firms and organisations so you can get a good understanding of exactly what is on offer.
Another option is staying at your current firm and no doubt there are many trainees hoping to do this each year. However, although some trainees are offered their first choice with their current firm, the majority will either be offered in a different area of expertise or will not be offered at all. As such, it is sensible to explore the market to avoid finding yourself out of work on qualification.
Remaining with your current firm will be an attractive option; you know the people, you know the systems and how things work and you’ve settled in. However, it is unwise to settle for a position that does not match your long term aims. You’re also in a perfect position to see what else is out there and if there is a better opportunity. You have only ever worked for one firm so now’s the time to see what it is like elsewhere. It may also help you define your goals and many trainees have found the process a journey of self awareness.
Alternative options and leaving the law
A considerable number of newly qualified lawyers leave the profession shortly after qualification for a variety of reasons. Think carefully before doing so as you may find it difficult to re-enter the profession at a later stage. This will largely depend on the strength of your CV, the state of the legal market and how much time you take out.
One of the most popular career choices for Newly Qualified leaving the profession is Legal recruitment.
Browse our current legal jobs.
Get a copy of the Newly Qualified Survival Guide
*Michael Page International is an equal opportunities organisation. We welcome applications from all candidates with the relevant skills and experience and do not restrict the recruitment services to any particular group.