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Advice for Newly Qualified Solicitors: Arhamna Jafri

by Sellick Partnership | 13 May 2021

Are you currently looking for a newly qualified (NQ) position but struggling to find a role that matches your needs and skillset? In our new blog series, we spoke to three Newly Qualified legal professionals working within the public sector to find out how they secured their NQ roles and get their advice and guidance on what to look for in a legal recruiter.

We recently sat down with three legal professionals to find out how they secured their NQ positions and to find out how their experience was dealing with Sellick Partnership throughout the process.

1. Tell me a bit about the role you are in now and how Sellick Partnership helped you to secure this? 

Arhamna: I am currently working as a Newly Qualified Planning Solicitor on a permanent basis at North Hertfordshire District Council. This is not a role I would have found myself if it wasn’t for Sellick Partnership. I previously dealt with Chelsey Newsom who helped me with my roles at LGSS Law and now I have been working with Zanub Najmi to secure this role. I had previously seen a role advertised with North Hertfordshire District Council that I was in interested in, but they were not openly advertising it. So, when this opportunity arose through Sellick Partnership, I knew this was the role I wanted. Zanub was great at helping me throughout the process. 

2. How would you describe the recruitment process from Sellick Partnership? 

Arhamna: The recruitment process via Sellick Partnership is always very smooth. The Legal recruitment team is very supportive and knowledgeable which is especially helpful for a Newly Qualified Solicitor.

Zanub prepared me for my interview which was extremely helpful. She gave me some background on the Council such as: how they operate and the number of legal members in the team. Zanub also prepared me with the type of questions that could be asked in an interview. 

This was extremely beneficial as usually I would do my own research but Zanub’s insight into the Council was invaluable to helping me prepare for the interview. I went in feeling confident, knowing how the Council operate and how I can be beneficial to the team, all thanks to Sellick Partnership. 

Also, when I completed my training contract I knew I wanted to work in planning law but had not completed a seat in planning law. Chelsey Newsom was extremely supportive and encouraging that I could still get a Newly Qualified Planning Solicitor position despite not having done a seat in my training contract. Chelsey really advocated for me with the client and ultimately that is how I got back into planning law – the area I wanted to be in.

3. What do you think have been the biggest advantages to using Sellick Partnership’s services to help secure a new role as a Newly Qualified Solicitor? 

Arhamna: The biggest advantage of using Sellick Partnership as a Newly Qualified Solicitor is that I had someone speak to clients on my behalf and my CV didn’t get lost in a lengthy application process. The team at Sellick Partnership were able to quickly identify what roles were suitable for me as they understood what I was looking for and could then make that match with the right client.  

Sellick Partnership really championed me as a Newly Qualified Solicitor as they knew what my capabilities were from having worked with me previously as a Paralegal. Chelsey helped me with this at LGSS law – she got me back into planning law. As many Newly Qualified Solicitors will know, it is hard to get into a sector of law if you haven’t done a seat within your training contract in that area. Sellick Partnership really worked hard on my behalf to explain to the client what my goals and aspirations were, and why I would be suitable. LGSS Law not only took this on board and recruited me but also offered training once a week to help with planning law and this really boosted my confidence. 

Sellick Partnership have strong, long-standing relationships with their clients so it was much better for them to speak to North Hertfordshire District Council on my behalf than me try and apply directly. Additionally, I would not be comfortable discussing working from home arrangements at first or second stage interview whereas Zanub did this for me and had already given me this information prior to interviewing.

4. We have worked with you for over 5 years as both a locum and a permanent candidate. In that time how has Sellick Partnership helped you in your career and professional development? 

Arhamna: I previously worked at LGSS Law via Sellick Partnership as a locum Planning Paralegal and really enjoyed my assignment. I then went to a private firm to complete my training contract and did my seats in commercial and residential property. However, I knew planning was the area I wanted to work in so once I qualified as a Solicitor I contacted Sellick Partnership to help me secure a Newly Qualified Solicitor role. 

I did a short locum assignment at another council but Sellick Partnership then placed me at LGSS Law as a Newly Qualified Planning Solicitor on a fixed-term basis for 18 months. I am now a permanent member of staff at North Hertfordshire District Council all thanks to Sellick Partnership and the excellent service and level of support they have provided me with over the years. 

 5. Did you have any difficulties or worries transitioning into a Newly Qualified Solicitor role and how did Sellick Partnership assist with those?

Arhamna: As a Trainee Solicitor you have the ‘trainee title’ as protection if anything is to go wrong and also a senior member of staff will supervise the work before it is sent out. This is the reason many Newly Qualified Solicitors like to stay in the organisation they have trained at as the supervisors are aware of the existing ability of the Trainee Solicitor which helps when moving into a qualified role.

My biggest concern was how much support I would get as a Newly Qualified Solicitor. Trainee Solicitors have ‘trainee’ in the job title which offers a certain level of protection as mentioned previously, however Sellick Partnership really helped with this. Chelsey made me realise that Managers do understand that Newly Qualified Solicitors need ongoing support and training and that your work is still reviewed which is exactly what happened at LGSS Law; we would regularly have sessions to go through my work, especially if moving departments. 

 6. What advice would you give to Newly Qualified Solicitors looking to secure their next role? 

Arhamna: I would advise all Newly Qualified Solicitors to:

  • Register with an agency (I highly recommend Sellick Partnership) as this can really help get your application in front of the hiring manager and gives your Consultant the opportunity to sell your skills and capabilities as a candidate.

  • I would advise Newly Qualified Solicitors to be resilient with job applications; sometimes your application will be rejected but it is all a learning experience and you should try to remain positive.

  • My biggest piece of advice from moving from a Trainee to a Newly Qualified Solicitor is to be crystal clear during the interview process on what you can offer and where you may need additional training and support. 

7. Would you recommend Sellick Partnership to other NQs looking for their next role?

Arhamna: I would 100% recommend NQ solicitors to contact Sellick Partnership as they have really helped me throughout both my career as a Paralegal but also taking a step up to NQ solicitor. 

There is nothing wrong with making direct applications but as I’ve said previously, if you do not want your CV to get lost in the process, or waste time filling out unsuitable applications then I would definitely advise Newly Qualified Solicitors to contact an agency, as they will know exactly what you are looking for and where the opportunities are in the market.

Sellick Partnership really listen and understand your needs and will champion you even if you are not the perfect fit for the job specification, which is exactly what happened to me at North Hertfordshire District Council. They were not seeking a Newly Qualified Solicitor (they were searching for an experienced Solicitor) however Sellick Partnership assured the client I was capable and I was successfully offered the role which I am in now! 

If you have any further questions or if you would like some more advice, please contact us and speak to your Sellick Partnership Recruitment Consultant.

Alternatively, you can check out our latest live public sector legal jobs here.