Published on August 23, 2018 by Lydia Cozens

Coming to the end of your training contract and thinking about applying for jobs as a newly qualified lawyer? It’s definitely not easy! Check out these tips that will help give you every chance of success in your application.

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Tip #1- Reflect on what you liked and didn’t like during your first year

Whilst the firm you undertake your training contract with is important, the department you choose to qualify into is even more so when it comes to forging your future career. Now this will sound pretty scary, the exciting point is that you really get to take ownership of where you go. In order to make that decision easier you should take the time to look back over your previous seats and think about what it is you liked about the seat and what you didn’t.

Loved the buzz of the deal and the prospect of helping businesses go? Maybe corporate law is the way forward.

Hated the transactional seats but preferred getting stuck into case law? Litigation and dispute resolution could be your answer.

Check out our blog post on how to choose between different areas of law. >> 

Want to find out more about corporate law? Have a look at our page here. >> 

Tip #2- Keep your options open

Qualification jobs are competitive, especially in areas like Corporate, TMT (Technology, Media and Telecoms) and dispute resolution. You should absolutely think about where your favourite spot would be, but also be honest with yourself, consider other opportunities and rank each in preference so to have more than one option. 

Also, it is important to remember that the opportunities available at your firm will be subject to business need, so try to stay as opened minded as you can.  For example, if you love the thought of doing arbitration but there is no job there, maybe see if there are any other opportunities that have a crossover i.e contentious construction or litigation.

Tip #3- Get talking to the teams

Now we are not saying you need to go to every single partner and associate in the firm and express your unrelenting desire to work for them – far from it. Once you have a fairly firm idea of which areas most interest you and you are most likely to apply to, contact a few colleagues in those teams or if you don’t know anyone in that team, reach out and ask for an informal chat to understand the department more.

This has the dual benefit of;

(1) showing you are enthusiastic about the department and not scared to meet and converse with senior colleagues

(2) it gives you a great opportunity to find out more about what they do and whether the work genuinely interests you.

Need some tips on networking? Have a look a here. >>

Keen to arrange a networking lunch? Check out these suggestions. >>

Tip #4- Don’t let yourself be too distracted

The NQ process is an exceptionally stressful time for trainee applicants, interviewing departments and the HR team that is managing the whole situation. With the anxiety that the process creates comes the potential for your trainees to begin becoming distracted from their day to day work. You need to try and keep your mind focuses on the day job and then focus on applications when you have a quiet moment over lunch, before or after work. You want to be able to demonstrate to departments that even under pressures of applications you are able to concentrate on the deal or the case. Just remember that this is can be a very unnerving time for all involved so calmer heads will prevail.

Tip #5- Avoid being complacent

The temptation with NQ jobs can sometimes be to approach the applications with less thoroughness, time and enthusiasm because after all, they’ve seen you work for nearly two years. Big mistake. You need to remember that the NQ interview is a very different beast from the TC interview you had a few years prior. Whilst the process may be a lot less convoluted (if you’re lucky there will be no assessment centre, Watson Glaser test or written exercise this time!)  Assume the partners or other interviewers have no idea what you have been doing and demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the job. You will be a permanent member of the team so now is the time to show why you belong in that department

Want to practice the Watson Glaser Test, just in case? You can do so here. >>

By Fergus Nolan

For more tips into deciding which area of law to get into: 


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