The end of your period of training and being admitted as a solicitor is exciting.
This is your reward for the resilience and hard work that got you through the years at university, law school and the two-year period of training.
You have now reached your goal but, as some soon realise, it is by no means the end of the road. Being a newly qualified (NQ) solicitor can bring with it a new set of challenges.
The build up to qualification is immense but what happens once you have qualified?
For some, the transition from trainee to newly qualified for some will be straightforward: they are clear about their area(s) of specialisation, were happy at the firm/organisation they trained at and secured an internal NQ role of their choice.
This is not the case for everyone.
There will be those who are unclear about their area(s) of specialisation. They may have liked some seats more than others, but none jump out as a firm favourite.
There are those who are clear of their desired specialisation(s) but found there were no opportunities at the firm/organisation where they trained.
For some, the firm/organisation is not right for them and others find they are not retained on qualification.
There are many reasons why on qualification the next step for some is the NQ jobs market.
Moving on after qualification
Are you finding the transition from trainee to newly qualified a struggle? Are you feeling unsure about your future?
If you are undecided on your area of specialisation, have not secured an internal role or are unsure of staying at the firm/organisation, it's not the end of the world.
As one door closes it leaves opportunity for another to open.
Perhaps the seats you undertook did not allow you to explore areas of law in which you have a genuine interest.
You need to give serious consideration to specialising: a rash decision made at qualification could shape your legal career going forward.
Changing specialisation at this early stage of your career, particularly within the first 12 months of qualification, will be easier than later when your career is more established.
A role that gives you exposure to other areas of law may help you decide where your passion lies.
Resources to help you prepare for the next step of your career as a newly qualified solicitor:
What to expect as a newly qualified solicitor
As an NQ solicitor, you may find that almost overnight you are given a heavier workload and line management responsibility.
You can expect to be involved in large complex matters and suddenly go from having little responsibility as a trainee to be given your own files.
It's important that you communicate what you feel comfortable with and ask for help and advice when needed. There will be help on hand to support you through these early years.
Ask questions if you do not understand. This is a better option than to risk making a mistake.
Your training and development will continue as a NQ as you work to enhance your skills and knowledge in your chosen area of law.
At the same time, you will be developing your personal profile, soft skills, building your confidence and being a great ambassador for the firm.
Take opportunities to learn from colleagues, read materials and use relevant in-house and external training. You are not expected to know everything.
You will have impressed and proven your value as a trainee, so you now need to continue to demonstrate your value.
Generating clients is key: work on maintaining and developing professional networks. You will need to proactively look to bring in business.
Keep in touch with current contacts and harness internal and external networking opportunities to develop a strong network.
- explore our resources on networking
- five strategies for business development without networking
- the zero-networking approach to business development
It may sound too early but even as a newly qualified solicitor you should always be thinking about your long-term career plans.
Keep in mind where you want to be in five years. After all, you have joined a profession that offers exciting career prospects.
Whether you aspire to be a partner, want flexibility, a portfolio career, or more, planning is key. Having a five-year plan can significantly increase the likelihood you will reach your goals.
Working as a legal professional can be stressful. There is help if you need it. Explore our stress and mental health resources
Sign up for an e-coaching course on Law Society Learning to enhance your career and your thinking.
Use Gazette Jobs to find your next career opportunity in the legal profession.