Calling all 2017 Qualifiers!

We are already approaching the end of February and I am sure I’m not the only one wondering where the month has gone. The Christmas festivities are already a distant memory.

Whilst we are entering unchartered territory with Brexit, we are still seeing a large number of vacancies registered daily at the 1-6 PQE level and have begun to see enquiries from Trainees due to qualify in 2017. With this in mind, I thought I’d give you a guide regarding the queries I hear most often on how to approach the next few months, so you are fully prepared for when NQ season hits!

When should I start thinking about making applications?
It is not too early to start making enquiries internally and with a recruitment consultant about the market and potential vacancies. Generally speaking, firms release their September NQ roles internally in May/June and externally once this process has been completed. There are always exceptions to this process starting earlier; more NQ vacancies than there are trainees, opportunity to transfer training contracts and no internal applications for a role, being the main examples.

I want to qualify into a discipline I have not had a seat in. Is this possible?
Unfortunately it is almost impossible for us to assist with this unless you have experience in this discipline as a paralegal prior to starting your training contract. Competition is tough at NQ level and firms ask us for CVs where candidates have a seat in the discipline where the vacancy is.
If your heart is set on qualifying into an area you have no experience in, now is the time to act. Speak to HR / Partners internally about your passion for this area and see whether they can accommodate you in that team for your final seat.

I only want to specialise in x discipline with these 5 firms in x City
While we understand your passion to specialise in a particular discipline, some areas are incredibly competitive. Year after year we see people disappointed by having such a narrow focus and only broadening their search in late summer, when all of the jobs have been filled.
I cannot emphasise enough the need to be flexible with this search early on – have a second choice discipline and location as a minimum. You will then be kept fully updated of the jobs in these markets and can make an informed decision as to which to apply for.

Ideally I want to stay with my training firm. Am I wasting my time and yours by speaking and registering with you?
Not at all! We are happy to assist with any queries you have regarding the market and are here to help you whatever stage you are at in your career now and in the future.

I see myself moving in-house. Can I do this upon qualification?
It’s fair to say it is hard to do this upon qualification as very few vacancies come up at this level. If your heart is set on moving in-house, look at qualifying into commercial contracts with a larger firm where you are also more likely to be given the opportunity to go on secondment.

Sometimes vacancies in-house do come in at NQ level but more often than not, we are instructed on 2+ PQE roles. As a NQ, you are still very much on a learning curve and working in a law firm provides a great support network to allow you to learn and grow. In-house teams in the main are smaller which is why they mostly consider candidates with more PQE, so they won’t need too much hand holding and be out of their depth.
There are obviously exceptions. If you can join a large team that can offer you support, then great. Also some NQs (especially second career lawyers and the more commercially aware) can thrive in a small in-house team.

This is all new to me. I haven’t applied for a job since my training contract! What should I expect?
Firstly, register with a reputable legal recruitment agency that understands what you are looking for and can give you an update on the market and overview on where the vacancies are likely to be.

An up to date CV is a must. Some disciplines are particularly competitive and firms can put a limit on how long the role is out in the market for or how many CVs they are happy to receive, so having an up to date CV on file with us will take an element of stress away.

At Chadwick Nott we provide you with a CV template so all you need to do is fill in the gaps on the word document.

My CV is up to date. Now what happens?
As soon as we are instructed on a vacancy, in the discipline and location you are interested in, we contact you and if it is of interest we make the application. We manage the whole process from initial application, arranging interviews through to acceptance. We keep in touch with you when you start the role to check you settle in and get the support you need at this crucial time of your career.

Are my academics still important?
In short, YES. You need to include A Level subjects and grades, degree subject and classification and grade(s) on GDL (if appropriate) and LPC on your CV.

What is the interview process like? I haven’t had one for years!
At Chadwick Nott we offer mock interviews with our specialist Consultants to ensure you are fully prepared and know what to expect. For most people, this is often the first interview they have had for at least 2 years and understandably nerves creep in.

With us you can expect to have a mock interview or 2, so that you are aware of the type of questions to expect, have had practice answering them and have received constructive criticism during this process. Our extensive experience means we have full knowledge of the firms, partners and format of the interviews. We also advise on the recruitment process for each firm.

I know mock interviews with us don’t sound enjoyable! However, it is far better to make mistakes talking with us rather than in the actual interview!

For advice and an update on NQ roles, do contact our very experienced consultant, Kate Sinclair on, Tel +44 (0)121 200 5578 or call one of our offices on the details below:

• Bristol +44 (0)117 925 9962
• Birmingham +44 (0)121 200 2444
• London +44 (0)203 096 4540
• Manchester +44 (0)161 828 5410
• Reading +44 (0)118 322 4631

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