It can be a very difficult situation for a trainee solicitor. You are just a few months into your training contract with the law firm that is supporting your qualification, but very quickly you need to start thinking about what your next step might be once you become an NQ (newly qualified) solicitor.
Of course, very naturally, you will be wanting to work hard, learn quickly and develop your skills during the time with your training firm, but the truth is, however much you impress, there is never any guarantee of a job at the end of the process when you assume qualified status.
So when is the best time to apply for NQ solicitor jobs? If you wait until the end of your training contract, you might find you have missed the best opportunities. Equally, you will need to be far enough along in your training to be able to give a future employee the confidence that they can appoint you to a position without having to wait too long before you are qualified can join the team.
As you make your decision on timing, there are some myths out there that should be debunked. It’s a common misconception that there are singular peak times in the calendar when law firms are exclusively looking for NQ solicitors. While it is traditional for a trainee solicitor’s qualification to involve two years of full-time work, this time period can vary depending on other aspects of legal experience.
The truth is, trainee solicitors are qualifying all the time, and this is matched by prospective employers looking for the right candidates at different points in the year, as their budgets and business aspirations allow. Law firms looking to recruit to a NQ solicitor job will time their search according to their business needs, and they will be hunting hard for the right trainee solicitor in that moment.
What this means for trainee solicitors considering when the best time to apply for NQ solicitor jobs is that they should keep an open mind and a ready eye on the recruitment market. When the countdown begins into your last 9-12 months as a trainee solicitor, it’s certainly not too early to start being mindful of your next move and check out who is hiring and to what type of positions.
Even if the right opportunity for you doesn’t show itself instantly, when it does you will have a much broader understanding of how often those positions become available, how quickly they are filled and what type of packages might look to be better than the average. This perspective will help you make informed choices as you decide which roles to apply for and also allow you a better understanding of exactly what opportunities might be suitable with your training firm, should that become an option.
The support of an experienced recruiter is also a huge advantage in this process, giving you expert insight into not only what vacancies might currently be available, but also those that might be coming up just around the corner. As a specialist legal recruitment company, Origin Legal has a team of experts with specific experience in the legal sector.
Our team has a track record of working alongside legal professionals and law firms spanning all levels of legal recruitment and including a wide spectrum of disciplines, including NQ solicitor jobs. This detailed market knowledge helps to provide you with up to date and accurate advice to help you find the first step in your career as a qualified solicitor – and one that also provides the firm foundation for a successful long term career.
See our latest 2023 update to our regional job market for NQs for the latest news and a timetable of actions to follow.
About the author | Taylor Day
Creative Content and Social Media Marketing Specialist, Taylor, joined Origin Legal in January 2020 to take on the website development and social media management of the company.