Law Gazette Jobs, the legal careers portal from the Law Gazette newspaper, asks is 2020 the year you want to move from associate to solicitor, or change career direction?
Our Annual Statistics Report 2018 shows the career moves solicitors have been making over the last year, and how the profession has changed overall. Whereas the share of solicitors working in-house has increased year-on-year to 22.4%, private practice numbers increased only marginally by 0.7% to 93,825. However, this proportion is likely an underestimate as a significant number of solicitors recorded as not attached to an organisation are working in-house. Almost 12% of PC holders were recorded as not attached to an organisation – up from around 6% historically.
Why the shift in-house?
Legal 500 include work-life balance, variety of work and the potential for career progression as key factors as to why so many solicitors are increasingly choosing to work in-house. Morgan McKinlay state that lawyers are increasingly willing to take a reduced renumeration package in exchange for the perceived benefits of in-house working. Morgan McKinlay also note that in 2019 there was a sustained desire for 'first time' in-house hires by businesses, as organisations looked to hire a lawyer to manage their affairs, particularly within the tech and IT sectors. It's likely that the in-house sector will continue to grow in 2020.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has introduced new regulations that will enable solicitors to work and offer services to the public in different ways, outside of the traditional legal entity models. This offers new and exciting opportunities to legal practitioners.
Whatever your career objective, it's important to evaluate where you are currently, decide where you want to be, and set realistic goals.
1 Write a detailed career plan
How often have you sat down to think in detail about where you'd like your career to go? Writing a detailed career plan which includes manageable goals and priorities for the next few months and years will help focus you, and ensure you take the right next step.
The Law Society's free career companion zone aims to support members from the start to the end of their career, assisting members with making better and fulfilling career decisions, and navigating their careers more effectively.
2 Strengthen your CV
It's the first tip you'll read on any article about finding your perfect job, and the importance of a good CV can't be understated. Tailoring your CV to the exact role you're applying for will help recruiters understand how your talents will help the organisation succeed.
3 Know where to look
Whether you're constantly refreshing LinkedIn or signed up to hundreds of job board mailing lists, finding the most up to date and relevant legal vacancies can be difficult and overwhelming. Gazette Jobs offers jobseekers instant access to the latest legal jobs searchable by practice area, position, location, PQE, salary and contract type. Sign up for jobs by email to tailor your job search to your preferences and receive corresponding jobs direct to your inbox, helping you to find the ideal match.
4 Understand your options
There are many career paths which qualified solicitors can take. Whether you're thinking of making the move in-house or want to change your specialism, take some time to research the pros and cons of different career options. For example, moving in-house usually means going beyond providing legal advice, such as understanding the context of the legal strategy and the business plan. Working freelance may give you a better work-life balance, but the insecurity that comes with not having regular income can be stressful.
If you're ready to take the next step in your career, whatever that may be, Gazette Jobs is a good place to start. Our Career Counsellors answer all your questions anonymously and post the response on the Gazette Jobs website. Gazette Jobs has the latest legal jobs and profiles of others within different parts of the industry.
Views expressed in our blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Law Society
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Read more about how to tailor your CV for a legal career
Read more about career options for solicitors
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Read Nikki's popular blog: Stop saying yes, start saying no - "After 16 years of practice, I refused to take a brief for the very first time."
Read former FTSE 100 in-house lawyer Matt Oliver's blog Why field research is critical to your next career move