Trainee -> NQ/plugging the gap
It’s funny how the tables can turn. It was barely 12 months ago when many trainees were struggling to find newly qualified positions, either within their own firms or externally. Not this year! Many of our clients exercise the option to have a policy of not paying fees for newly qualifiers. If they’ve planned well internally, they shouldn’t need us. Not this year! The number of such vacancies released to agencies is without precedent as market confidence continues to grow and the gap at the Associate level continues to cause structural problems.
What can trainees learn from this? Well, it is a candidate-driven market and they do say to cash in when your value is highest. But how can one gain from the current situation? It is a great chance to secure your preferred specialism on qualification, either internally or externally. And if you’re not sure which field you want to pursue, the market is giving huge clues as to the more lucrative and stable areas going forwards – pensions, banking, insolvency, etc, vacancies give the game away. It is also a good time to negotiate for a better deal, either financially or in terms of quality of firm/work. No firm is going to want an up-and-coming corporate or real estate lawyer to walk out the door, while such is the competition for talent in the transactional specialisms firms are casting a wider net than previously for recruits. Loyalty to the firm that has spent time and energy training you up is no bad thing, but if you are ambitious and can take a leg up both in salary and in the tiers on qualification then it will be tempting.
It has been a tough downturn for those starting out on their legal careers. While the times are good, while the sun shines, make hay – firms have been in the box seat too long!