Navigating the Legal Job Market Series: A Guide for Newly Qualified Lawyers

by Allan Campbell in Articles

DatePosted on June 24, 2024 at 08:59 AM
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The legal industry, particularly for junior or Newly Qualified lawyers (NQs), presents a unique set of challenges. As someone who frequently interacts with NQs, I’ve had the opportunity to address their concerns about navigating an intricate and often precarious market, especially for those just entering the job market. This article aims to provide some guidance for NQs.

Securing and Retaining a Position

If you’re fortunate enough to secure a position and get retained, it’s worth considering staying put unless you have a firm offer from another firm that genuinely offers a significant advancement in your career. This could be in terms of the firm’s reputation, a practice area you’re passionate about, compensation packages, work culture, or mentors you admire. Remember, at the early stages of your career, it’s crucial to focus on accumulating experience, building a solid reputation, and demonstrating resilience. While securing an NQ role is not impossible, given the current market conditions, doing so is certainly not a walk in the park.

You'll face a lot of things to unscramble as you approach the end of your legal training.

Harnessing the Power of Positivity

Maintaining a positive attitude is not just beneficial, it’s crucial. This holds true whether you’re navigating challenging times in your current role or embarking on a job search. Positivity can transform your perspective, turning obstacles into opportunities and setbacks into stepping stones.

If you find yourself in the midst of a job search, I strongly advocate for leveraging your network. This involves more than just scrolling through your contacts list. It means actively reaching out to friends and acquaintances, seeking introductions, and arranging meetings with recruiters or friends at various law firms.

Remember, the power of asking cannot be underestimated. As the saying goes, “He who doesn’t ask, doesn’t get!” So, don’t hesitate to ask for what you need. After all, the journey towards your next career milestone might just be a question away.

The Importance of Upskilling

Upskilling, particularly when transitioning between roles, is a valuable strategy to distinguish yourself from other candidates. If your circumstances permit, consider obtaining an additional qualification. This not only makes you more marketable but also facilitates global mobility. Upskilling can also involve learning additional languages, acquiring certifications, or undertaking courses that contribute to your overall growth as a legal professional.

Building Connections with Recruiters

Establishing connections with trusted recruiters on platforms like LinkedIn can be beneficial if you’re interested in exploring the market (confidentially). Having a handful of trusted recruiters (I recommend a maximum 1-3) in your network can keep you informed about new roles, market intelligence, and networking opportunities. However, remember that not all recruiters are created equal. Building trust, their style, and their adherence to confidentiality and professionalism are key factors in finding a recruiter you can trust and enjoy working with. 

It's important to find ways to distinguish yourself from the rest.

Maintaining an Open Mind

The legal market can sometimes feel like a rollercoaster, particularly during downturns. However, the more open you are to different practice areas you’re passionate about or have experience in, the more opportunities you’ll “see”. This openness extends to the type of firm, compensation, and size.

Job seeking comes with its share of examples, pitfalls, ideas, and clues to follow. At the end of the day, we’re all people dealing with people. My goal is to support you in your search, from Paralegal to Associate and beyond. I look forward to connecting, meeting, and most importantly, helping you find your next step in your professional journey. Please feel free to get in touch if you’re interested in hearing more, want to discuss the market, are confidentially seeking a new role, or even just want a chat.

About the Author

Allan Campbell

Allan is a recruitment consultant at Star Anise focusing on law firm partner and associate roles as well as in-house counsel roles. With his in-depth experience as a recruiter working with lawyers in different industries and levels, he writes about the common challenges that lawyers face and how to deal with them. 

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