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I’m a new lawyer. What are my career options?
When you’re a new lawyer, there are many options open to you as you embark upon your career. It’s important to take a step back and consider what your career goals are, what kind of challenges you enjoy and what you’d like to get out of your job.
Here are some questions recent law graduates should ask themselves:
What are the possibilities?
After graduation, some options for new lawyers include:
- Moving to a different law firm after your traineeship and study
- Going into an in-house role
- Working in the public sector
- Entering a financial organisation like a bank as internal counsel
- Going back to study to specialise in a different area of law
- Leaving law altogether, and using your law qualifications as a launching pad for a career in another industry
What specialisation appeals to me?
If you’re nearing the final stages of your training, you’ll need to choose an area in which to qualify. Think long and hard about this, as choosing your area of expertise can be an important part of enjoying your career.
Consider your short, medium and long-term aims. Think about what you want out of your career – the type of role, the hours and where you see yourself in five years’ time. If you have a definite goal, get experience in that space to help you get there fast. If you don’t feel drawn to a specific outcome, choose a path that broadens your experience and skills, thereby keeping your options open.
Practice or in-house?
Once you‘ve decided on your specialisation, consider what type of firm or organisation you want to work for. A good starting point is to ask yourself what factors are important to you.
Use interviews as fact-finding exercises to help you understand:
- Training opportunities and support
- Level of responsibility
- Speed of career progression
- Hours and lifestyle
Should I stay put in my traineeship firm?
Be realistic about the possibility that some trainees are offered their first choice with their current firm as a new lawyer, but the majority will either be offered work in a different area of expertise or won’t be offered ongoing work at all.
Remaining with your current firm as a new lawyer is an attractive option because you already know the people, systems, culture, personalities and how things work there. But thinking outside of this comfort zone, it wouldn’t make sense to settle for a position that doesn’t match your long-term career goals. This is also the prime moment to see what else is out there and if there’s a better opportunity for your calibre of talent. Many new lawyers find this process a valuable journey of self-awareness.
What if I want to leave law?
A considerable number of new lawyers leave the profession shortly after qualification for a number of reasons – including the oversupply of recent graduates compared to positions available.
It’s a good idea to explore other options before leaving the profession altogether. It may be that a large firm isn’t right for you, but that practising family law, entering legal aid, working in a government department or going in-house is a better fit for your preferences. Think carefully before taking this step, have a solid plan in place for what you’ll do next, as you may find it difficult to re-enter the profession at a later stage. This will largely depend on the strength of your CV, the state of the legal market, how much time you take out and what else you do in that time.
What is legal recruitment like?
There are also many applications for legal knowledge beyond practicing the law itself. A popular career move for new lawyers who don’t wish to practice is legal recruitment. Krishna Jagaduri, Legal Consultant with Michael Page, tells her story:
“Prior to joining Page, I was in private practice and had to take a break due to personal commitments. When I decided to get back into the profession, that I enjoyed very much, I happened to discover the possibility of switching careers and starting afresh as a legal recruiter, which allowed me to continue to interact and build relationships in the legal community. I now enjoy a more entrepreneurial relationship with my fraternity, while also building careers and a business that excites me every day. I was told I was a good lawyer and maybe would have continued to be but recruitment gives me the ability to feel great and enriches me with life skills I wouldn’t have known I needed in my comfort zone.”
If you’re a graduate lawyer looking to start your legal career, contact one of our legal recruitment specialists today.
When deciding on your career path, it’s important to figure out your priorities. Consider things like:
· What moving on from your traineeship firm might help you gain
· The type of organisation you’d like to work with
· Your career goals
The option of taking your law degree into a related career path, such as legal recruitment