Potentially yes. There are some risks associated with spending the very early years of your legal career overseas. This is because many employers, especially the elite US law firms, prefer to recruit candidates with experience gained in the UK legal market. That said, working overseas carries plenty of benefits beyond the financial rewards.
This is naturally a worrying time, but it's sensible not to do anything knee-jerk. Remember that your ability to move with the partner will depend on any restrictions that are imposed on them regarding poaching colleagues. Also, you may have to attend interviews with the firm your partner is joining to ensure you meet its hiring criteria, meaning there is no guarantee of a new job.
Your decision to accept any offer to move will depend on many factors, including the strength of your relationship with the departing partner, who else is following them and who is staying put, as well as your profile in your current team/firm. If the partner's exit will have a negative impact on your current firm/department longer term, then as well as considering following them, you may want to speak to a recruitment consultant to find out how the market is and look at opportunities elsewhere.
Unfortunately, the path to partnership is becoming longer and increasingly difficult. Before exploring external positions, it's important to do a thorough assessment of your internal prospects by having a conversation with the decision makers at your current firm. If you missed out due to business needs, you should ask about the likelihood of your getting made up during the next round. Also, check out the competition in your team, as well as the pipeline of work, etc. If your conclusions don't make for positive reading then you need to start looking at other options. However, please be aware that opportunities for 'senior' associates, both in private practice and in-house, are more scarce than those for more junior or mid-level candidates. Senior associates moving straight into partner level roles are even less common.
Many senior associates are now turning their backs on climbing the partnership ladder and opting for 'of counsel' or 'special counsel' positions instead. The good news is that the historic stigma that was attached to such titles no longer prevails, which means that they are now commonly considered good alternatives to partnership.
This is an entirely personal choice. Direct applications or approaches made through personal contacts can be very effective, especially if your CV is unconventional. Some smaller firms may not have the budget for recruitment consultants and so will only accept direct applications. That said, recruitment consultants do add value by sharing their market knowledge and helping with CV and interview preparation. If you decide to use a recruiter, go with someone who has been recommended to you. If you don't have any recommendations, do your homework. Larger agencies typically work with more clients, but that means their candidate pool is much bigger than their smaller/niche counterparts which pride themselves on offering a more personal service.
See our Job seeking section for more advice.
Part-time solicitor roles are limited, especially in transactional practice areas such as corporate or banking. If you do find a part-time role, there's a risk you'll end up working full-time hours but earn less than your colleagues. If you opt to go down the part-time route, give careful thought to how to structure your working week. For example, working Mondays to Thursdays may give you a long weekend, but some clients may not want to wait three days for a reply so taking Wednesdays off may be more practical.Examine freelance/consultant options, especially at 'virtual' firms. Also consider requesting flexible working/reduced hours with your current employer. Find out if anyone else at work also wants reduced hours – could you job share?
There are many people who who thrive on the academic aspects of legal work, but who don't enjoy the day-to-day reality of practising as a solicitor. There are ways to remain involved in the sector and make use of the valuable skills and experience gained during the long training. See our Career crossroads section.
Whether a career break is your choosing or has been forced on you, staying up to date with the law is vital. How much time you should spend on this will depend on your practice area and individual circumstances. Some areas of law are constantly evolving, others less so. In addition to legal developments, it's also worth keeping up to date with news relating to the legal sector and your clients' sectors. Women on maternity leave should use their Keeping in Touch days to attend training courses provided by their employers.
Maintain your visibility by staying in touch with current and former colleagues, and don't be afraid to accept invitations to the odd work social event. The bigger your career gap, the more difficult it will be to return to work and your 'unorthodox' CV may put some recruitment consultants off, You might have more success if you approach potential employers directly. The key is to be imaginative and open-minded. Some solicitors have returned to work as freelance consultants, while others have started by taking up locum or contract roles. See Returning to work after a career break.
The answer to this question will depend on who you ask. Some say starting a family sooner rather than later is preferable. This is because going on maternity leave as a junior/mid-level associate is arguably less disruptive than leaving it until being promoted to partner. Others, however, advise delaying pregnancy until promotion has been secured. The best advice is to use common sense because there are plenty of other factors to consider.