Are you currently looking for a newly qualified (NQ) position but struggling to find a role that matches to your needs and skillset? We spoke to three qualified legal professionals to find out how they secured their NQ roles, why they chose their current firm, and get their views on what to look for in a legal recruiter. Securing an NQ position can often be a challenging and lengthy process for legal professionals. It can often be difficult to find the right firm, choose a recruiter that will listen and find the perfect role. I speak with candidates that are going through the process every day, and each has their own story to tell. I 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. What were the first steps you took when beginning your search for an NQ position? Shehnaz Rahman Commercial Property Solicitor at Boyes Turner LLP said: The first and most important aspect of securing an NQ position in my opinion is getting your CV up to scratch, so I attended several CV clinics and spent time getting this ready for applying to roles. I then changed my LinkedIn status to let recruiters know I was open to vacancies and started looking for a recruiter that could help with my search. Rosie Deller, Family Solicitor at Rayden Solicitors said: Firstly, I spoke with a previous trainee from my old firm about the NQ process and how to structure CVs. Getting advice from someone that has been through the process is very helpful. After this I redrafted my CV in-line with a precedent received from an NQ information evening. Once I knew my CV was good enough I started having initial conversations with a couple of recruiters – ones that specialised in the areas I wanted work. Laura Jeal, Chartered Legal Executive at Doyle Clayton Solicitors said: I started by updating my CV, to ensure it reflected the diverse range of skills I had gained as a trainee. I had a vague awareness of other firms in the local area but used the Legal 500 to give myself a general idea of the types of firms I wanted to aim for. I also kept an eye on the legal job sites for NQ vacancies and followed up with any recruiters who contacted me about NQ roles. How did you decide what area of law to qualify into? How soon did you know? Shehnaz said: Before I started my training contract I had an interest in property law but wasn’t sure whether to specialise in commercial or residential. During my training contract I had experience in both and enjoyed commercial property the most. That is why it is important to try and gain as much exposure as possible while training as it will really help make your final decision. Rosie said: During my training contract there were two main practice areas – property and family. Personally, I found property incredibly dry and boring, but family law very interesting. I spoke with a couple of family solicitors that I knew about the profession and what it is like once qualified and it only reconfirmed my decision that family law was the right area for me. Laura said: I’ve wanted to work in employment law ever since I started studying. I worked in a call centre before I began my studies and every email from HR had me questioning whether what they were doing was above board (I now know it was, for the record). Since working in an employment law environment, it has underlined its appeal to me, as it has the perfect mix between contentious and non-contentious work. If you could go back in time, what do you now know that you wish you had known at the start of the process? Shehnaz said: When I first started looking for an NQ role I instructed three recruitment agencies, which was completely unnecessary. I think the best approach is to have initial chats with various recruiters to get an understanding of what they have to offer and whether there is a connection between you and the recruiter, if you like them, then instruct them. I found some recruiters pushy and tried to pressure me to interview with firms which were (a) not in my desired specialism (b) not in my desired location. My advice would be to find a recruiter that has your best interests in mind and stick with them. I also started my search in my final seat, however I would suggest starting your search earlier. Rosie said: Do not panic. The market for NQ solicitors was stagnant when I first started looking, and everyone’s situation is very different, so don’t get down about it. For example, my friend had found a suitable role about six months before he was due to qualify, which was very lucky. I decided early on that I did not want to stay at the firm I was training at and the lack of opportunities when I first started looking did not fill me with much hope that I would be able to move roles. Also, do not accept too many approaches from recruiters on LinkedIn. At the start I accepted any recruiter that wanted to connect with me. Rather than simply just accept, I should have researched into them and the company to determine whether they would be the right fit to assist me. I probably wasted more time having initial conversations with other recruiters who were not right to assist me. Laura said: Be patient with your search! Firms aren’t always hiring, and your dream firm may be just around the corner if you’re willing to wait. What attracted you to the firm you are working at? Shehnaz said: Boyes Turner has an extremely strong reputation in Reading and a lot of people from my training firm had moved there, so it was clearly doing something right! It also has an impressive line-up of developer clients. Having now worked here for almost a year, I can certainly say it was the best move/decision I made. It is extremely friendly, transparent and everyone is very supportive. The Partners here are keen to support and develop your knowledge and train you up. Rosie said: Rayden Solicitors is a highly respected and well-ranked law firm. I spoke with several family solicitors in London and they had all mentioned how great Rayden Solicitors was and that I would be happy and be able to progress with them. I had two offers from two firms on the table and decided to take Rayden’s which was a slightly lower salary due to the reputation and career progression that they could offer. Laura said: There were several factors. Firstly, my previous boss and trainee supervisor both came from Doyle Clayton. I respected both as incredible lawyers and knew that was in part because of the training and support they had received at my firm. In addition, Doyle Clayton are ranked as a tier one firm for employment law for the region, which to me means their advice is valued, and they have a diverse range of clients. When I interviewed there, I felt immediately at home and knew it was where I wanted to work. Why did you decide to choose Sellick Partnership to assist you with the search? Shehnaz said: Faith was the first person to contact me on LinkedIn, before I even started looking for NQ positions. Many recruiters sent generic messages to me, however Faith clearly did her research and her initial message was personal to my experience and location. Faith is extremely diligent and hardworking. In comparison to other recruiters out there, she is one of the best recruiters I have come across. Interview prep and understanding the firm you will interview for, are some of the main concerns NQs have. Faith provided extensive guidance on these, so you feel confident when going into the interview. The NQ recruitment market is highly competitive, so you need a recruiter who is proactive and persevering, and Faith can certainly deliver that. Rosie said: After having an initial chat with you, you completely understood my position and the type of role that I wanted. Other recruiters that I spoke with didn’t really listen to the practice area of law and location that I wanted and continued to press me to consider other roles that weren’t suitable. The market after I first spoke to you was stagnant and there was not a lot of vacancies. Rather than send these to me to try and make me consider them in order to place me as quickly as possible, you waited for the right opportunities. Laura said: Faith and I were already connected, and she posted on LinkedIn to say she was keen to speak to NQs in all areas. I arranged a phone call with Faith and we discussed what I was looking for. I knew from the first call that this would be a useful relationship to have. Faith wasn’t just putting me forward for any old vacancy – she considered the type of firms I was looking at, and was able to talk knowledgeably about each firm, their ethos and way of working. I never received anything less than a personal service. No other recruiter could compare. Next steps If you are about to finish your training contract and are looking for an NQ position they get in touch, Faith would be delighted to work with you to find your perfect role, or for further advice you can check out Faith’s blog here. Alternatively, you can check out our latest live legal jobs here.
The term ‘notice period’ will be familiar to anyone who has had to leave a job or look for a new role while already employed. However, no matter how often individuals have been through the resignation process, there are still some aspects of giving notice that can be confusing for employees. In this article, we will answer the most common questions that our Consultants receive from the candidates with whom we work, to ensure you know everything you need to know about notice periods. What is a ‘notice period’? A notice period is the amount of warning you are required to give your employer before leaving your employment, and, equally, the amount of warning the employer must give you before terminating your contract. Notice periods are designed to minimise disruption for both the company and the individual — by giving each party sufficient time to either find a replacement, if necessary, or find a new role. How much notice do I need to give? There are two kinds of notice period: statutory and contractual. The term ‘statutory’ refers to the minimum notice period required by law before a contract of employment can be terminated. According to the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees must give at least the following notice: One week if you have been employed by the firm continuously for one month or more but less than two years. One week for every year worked if you have been employed for between two and 12 years. 12 weeks if you have been employed continuously for 12 years or more. The notice periods listed above are the legal minimum that must be given by an employee. However, while employers cannot demand employees give less than the statutory notice, they can expect them to give more. This is what is known as contractual notice. Companies often state in their own terms of employment — written into their contracts — that employees must give more than the minimum amount of notice. One month is popular among many employers, with the period often rising the more senior you are in the business. Check your contract to make sure you understand your own terms of employment and notice periods. How to hand in your notice You should submit your resignation in writing by preparing and submitting a dated letter or email to your employer informing them of your decision to leave, and the date on which you will terminate your employment. You do not have to submit your resignation in writing, but it is best practice to do so, as it avoids any confusion or misunderstanding later down the line. Some employees have a meeting with their managers before formally submitting their notice, while others do it the other way around. However, in the vast majority of cases, there will be a face-to-face meeting with a senior member of staff at some point to discuss your reasons for leaving and put a plan in place to organise your work during your notice period. Do you have to work your notice period? Unless your employer states otherwise when you resign, you should work as normal until the end of your employment to avoid breaching your employment contract. If you decide not to work your notice period as stated in your contract, the employer could feasibly sue you for damages that the business would suffer as a result of you not working your full notice. However, that is normally a very last resort — employers might instead agree to let you leave early and terminate the contract with immediate effect, or reduce the notice period, but this would mean not getting paid once you have left. Equally, some employees may have a ‘pay in lieu of notice’ clause, which means their employment will end immediately but they will be paid by the employer for the period set out in their notice. In addition, some employees may be put on garden leave, which means you are paid until the end of your notice period but do not have to come to work for that time. Do I get paid during my notice period? Yes, your employer has an obligation to pay you your normal full pay during your notice period. Can I take holiday during my notice period? Yes, your employment terms will remain the same during your notice period and you will receive your normal full pay for annual leave taken. Can I change my mind? If you have resigned but have changed your mind, you should speak to your employer immediately to see if they are open to keeping you employed and retracting your resignation. It is also recommended that you write a retraction letter once your employment terms have been discussed and — if possible, agreed, so that your intentions and agreement are recorded in writing. Your employer may not agree to your retraction, however, which will mean you having to work your notice and end your employment.
This week is UK Charity Week which takes place from Monday 7 December to Sunday 13 December 2020. I know this time of year is always quite expensive, and over ‘Black Friday’ weekend there is a copious amount of spending across the nation in the lead up to Christmas. Here are some ideas of things that you can do to give something back, either as an individual or collectively as a business. One positive result of doing something as a business is that you make more of an impact for the charitable cause without an individual breaking the bank. Individual sponsorship: Any fundraising efforts for charities will always be welcomed. You can go for a walk, run or bike ride and ask people to sponsor you. Here at Sellick Partnership a few of our colleagues have been logging their steps in Strava and have collectively walked or ran a marathon, which is 26 miles! Reverse advent calendar: Every day until Christmas, you put a non-perishable food item into a box. When you then have 24 items in the box, you can then donate this to a food bank and they can present this to a family to help them in January, often a really long and frugal month for those on low income. Virtual quiz: A general knowledge quiz always goes down really well and it’s a fun and lively way to raise some quick funds for a charitable cause. I would advise doing an email quiz, and asking everyone taking part to give a small donation! Remember to offer some sort of prize! Chocolates usually go down well for us here at Sellick Partnership. Amazon Smile: With COVID-19, this year many will be doing their Christmas shopping online. If you choose to order anything from Amazon you can set up a Smile account with them, which means anything you purchase anything you purchase, Amazon will donate a fraction of the cost to your chosen charity. There is no extra cost to you and it means you can continue to support local charities. It is really easy to set up, all you need to do is head to https://smile.amazon.co.uk and log in with your usual details, from there you can choose a charity to support. These are just a small selection of ideas and we’re always keen to hear of any new and innovative fundraising ideas so please do get in touch if you have any to share. Likewise, if you decide to try any of these out, we’d love to hear some feedback on how you got on. And please remember, #UKCharityWeek starts on Monday, so get your thinking caps on and do something worthwhile! Alternatively you can find out more about us and the charities we support here.
Last night, I presented to the Society of Asian Lawyers Law students from City, University of London on legal career options beyond university. We covered areas such as alternative legal sectors to the traditional Law firm, or Barrister chambers, as well as discussing other routes to take using a legal degree, out of the legal sector altogether. Areas such as the civil service, retail graduate schemes, banking and accounting graduate schemes, and the Police all welcome law graduates looking for an alternative career. The session ended with a Q&A and here are the questions and answers that came up. Q: What if I don’t have experience when I am applying for roles? A: You can and need to get some. Call your local authority or local high street solicitors practice and ask for a week of work experience in the legal team as you are a law student who would benefit. Send a letter in if needed. Eventually someone will always reply and that experience will be invaluable on your CV. Q: Apart from work experience how else can you stand out? A: Great question! Voluntary experience and charity work will always go down well. It will show you are a diverse and hardworking individual as you have given up your own time for the benefit of others. It highlights an ability to converse at different levels and with different audiences. These skills along with a 2:1 could be more valuable than a stand-alone first class honours degree, when it comes to employability. Q: Do you think the lawyers working in legal government roles enjoy a better work life balance than those in magic circle firm? A: Yes! Magic circle and top tier firms are very high-pressured roles which is why you are remunerated extremely well. It can be unsustainable for some and lawyers can suffer from burn out. In other legal sectors, particularly public sector legal teams, lawyers are often given time back for overtime worked and not called in their personal time. Q: Do agencies recruit paralegals? A: Yes. To be considered paralegal applicants usually need to demonstrate that along with a legal degree, and/or an LPC, they have work experience in an office environment. Even if that experience has been on a voluntary basis they will be considered. Q: What is your opinion on the role of a Chartered Legal Executive? A: Many clients are keen to get a Legal Executive on their team. Often when candidates have taken the CILEX route they have spent 6 years working in a legal setting alongside evening studies whilst qualifying and which is more favourable to some clients than a NQ Solicitor, with often only 2 years of ‘hands on’ legal experience. Q: Where do you hear about in-house legal roles? A: Often clients use agencies for harder to fill or more senior roles but for entry level they often post job information on LinkedIn. Create a profile on the site and subscribe to the job alerts on there and other job boards such as Law Gazette jobs, Totally Legal and Indeed. Once you are setup the profile of jobs you have requested will be emailed to you. Another tip would be to use the Law Society company search function and look at solicitors in the companies you would be keen to work in. You can then search and link in directly with those contacts. Q: What are good ways to network? A: LinkedIn is excellent! I recommend you create a strong profile and join some relevant groups so you can see and hear updates. Connect with relevant individuals and before you know it you are networking! Q: What would you discuss when networking? A: In my experience one topic people enjoy talking about it is themselves. Ask them some questions asking for their experience or opinion. Why did you choose the law? What would you change if you could? What would you ask if you were me? You will open up individuals and learn a lot from the answers. Q: How much do lawyers earn? A: I think there is a real lack of information out there and although magic circle and top tier firms can offer outstanding remuneration I would say the average ranges are: Trainee Solicitor - £24k - £27k NQ Solicitor - £30k - £40k 2 – 10 years PQE - £40k - £70k 10 years+ - £70k+ My thanks go to Sam Harris-Jones, Antonia Clark, of City, University of London, and also thanks to Ranjit Sond, President of Society of Asian Lawyers, for introducing me to this motivated, and ambitious group of Law students. Please feel free to email me with any questions at email@example.com.
For those seeking employment in the legal sector, there are few destinations more prestigious than the ‘Magic Circle’ and ‘Silver Circle’ law firms. These organisations are famous around the world, with hard-earned reputations for excellence. This select group of legal firms have become widely known for their commitment to the very highest standards of performance and success. As such, obtaining a role with these companies can be seen as a real marker of accomplishment for the UK’s most skilled legal professionals. Here, we explore the firms that comprise the Magic Circle and Silver Circle, looking at what differentiates these organisations and what is expected of those chosen to represent these firms. What is the Magic Circle? The term “Magic Circle” was first coined by the legal media in the 1990s to describe the most prestigious, high-performing law firms in London. All of the members of the Circle are known for their high-profile corporate and finance work, overseeing multi billion-pound transactions and delivering the highest earnings per lawyer of any law firm headquartered in the UK. This group used to be known informally as the Club of Nine, but this term fell out of use as its perceived membership became more exclusive. Today, the Magic Circle consists of five firms: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter and May. Each of the firms in the Magic Circle shares the following characteristics: Based in London, with substantial international operations. Industry-leading offerings in banking, finance and corporate law. Working with the world’s biggest and best-known corporations on major transactions with significant economic implications. Revenues and salary levels far above the UK industry average. There is no doubt that these five firms are still among the most respected names in law, retaining a powerful attraction for candidates who seek to make an impact at the very top of their profession, working on cases with global impact. What is the Silver Circle? Although the Magic Circle is seen as the top tier for UK law, this is not to say that other firms are not also capable of commanding huge respect and strong reputations. Indeed, the more recent creation of the so-called “Silver Circle” reflects this reality. This term was conceived by the industry publication The Lawyer to describe the law firms that fall just outside the Magic Circle, but which nevertheless deliver far higher revenues per lawyer than the average UK firm. When the concept was created in 2005, the Silver Circle was said to consist of Ashurst, Herbert Smith Freehills, Macfarlanes and Travers Smith, as well as the now-defunct SJ Berwin. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is also widely considered to be in the conversation for membership of this elite group, who share many of the same traits: A focus on serving a premium London-centred client base in the UK. Significantly higher profits per equity partner and revenue per lawyer than the UK average. A generally broader range of specialisms than the Magic Circle. A flexible approach to management, with an avoidance of top-down leadership and excessive bureaucracy. There is more debate about the exact membership of the Silver Circle than the Magic Circle, with The Lawyer arguing that the increasingly international focus of firms like Ashurst and Herbert Smith Freehills means they no longer belong in this category as well as debating that Mischon de Reya should now be granted membership. What is it like to work for Magic and Silver Circle law firms? Working for a Magic Circle law firm is a dream come true for many in the sector, but those seeking roles with one of these organisations must be prepared to put a lot in if they wish to earn the associated rewards. Magic Circle firms are known for their lengthy working hours, clear sense of hierarchy and demanding professional requirements. For those able to keep pace with these requirements, the payoff comes in the form of generous salaries, cutting-edge working environments and an opportunity to work on some of the industry’s biggest and most important cases. By comparison, working experiences in the Silver Circle tend to be more varied. Each company has its own distinctive culture, and are generally known for being less rigidly formal and more flexible than their Magic Circle counterparts; as such, staff can still expect to work long hours as a rule, but may experience a better work-life balance on the whole. It is worth noting there will be many well-respected, top-performing organisations who are not included in the rankings. However, for ambitious professionals, the pull of these recognised names will always be considerable provided that they are able to do what it takes to succeed in these demanding, highly competitive roles.