The end of your period of training and admission as a lawyer is exciting.
It’s your reward for the resilience and hard work that got you through the years in college, law school, and the two-year training period.
You have now reached your goal but, as some quickly realize, this is by no means the end of the road. Being a Newly Qualified (NQ) lawyer can bring a whole new set of challenges.
The preparation for qualification is immense, but what happens once you qualify?
For some, the transition from intern to newly qualified for some will be simple: they are clear about their area(s) of specialization, were happy with the company/organization they were trained in and achieved an internal NQ role of their choice.
This is not the case of everyone.
There will be those who are unclear about their area(s) of specialization. They may have liked some seats more than others, but none became a favorite.
There are those who are clear about the desired specialization(s) but found that there were no opportunities in the company/organization where they were trained.
For some, the company/organization is not suitable for them and others find that they are not retained on qualification.
There are many reasons why, when it comes to qualification, the next step for some is the NQ job market.
Pass after qualifying
Do you find the transition from trainee to qualified again difficult? Do you feel uncertain about your future?
If you’re undecided about your area of specialization, haven’t secured a job internally, or aren’t sure if you’ll stay with the company/organization, it’s not the end of the world.
When a door closes, it allows another to open.
Perhaps the seats you’ve held haven’t allowed you to explore areas of law that really interest you.
You should seriously consider specializing: a rash decision made while qualifying could shape your legal career in the future.
Changing specializations at this early stage of your career, especially during the first 12 months of qualification, will be easier than later when your career is more established.
A role that gives you exposure to other areas of law can help you decide where your passion lies.
Resources to help you prepare for the next step in your career as a newly qualified lawyer:
What to expect as a newly qualified lawyer
As an NQ attorney, you may find that almost overnight you are being given a heavier line management workload and responsibility.
You can expect to be involved in large, complex cases and suddenly go from having few responsibilities as an intern to being entrusted with your own cases.
It is important that you communicate what you feel comfortable with and that you ask for help and advice when needed. There will be help on hand to support you through these early years.
Ask questions if you don’t understand. It’s a better option than risking a mistake.
Your training and development will continue as an NQ as you work to improve your skills and knowledge in your chosen area of law.
At the same time, you will develop your personal profile, your interpersonal skills, build your confidence and be an excellent ambassador for the firm.
Take advantage of opportunities to learn from colleagues, read materials, and use relevant internal and external training. You are not expected to know everything.
You will have impressed and proven your worth as an intern, so now you must continue to demonstrate your worth.
The generation of clients is essential: work on the maintenance and development of professional networks. You will need to proactively seek to attract customers.
Stay in touch with current contacts and leverage internal and external networking opportunities to develop a strong network.
It may seem too soon, but even as a newly qualified lawyer, you should always think about your long-term career plans.
Keep in mind where you want to be in five years. After all, you have joined a profession that offers exciting career prospects.
Whether you’re aspiring to become a partner, looking for flexibility, a portfolio career or more, planning is key. Having a five-year plan can dramatically increase the likelihood that you will achieve your goals.