Moving as a NQ – an Indication of Failure?

March 5, 2013

We are getting closer to that time of year when the qualification season moves into overdrive.  Firms will be releasing their internal job lists any time from the end of March and all the stresses and strains of securing your ideal qualification role will begin.  For some general advice on the qualification process and a discipline-by-discipline breakdown, please refer to our “Qualification Season: Advice for Trainee Solicitors” document by clicking here.

One of the most common questions we are asked by trainee solicitors in the months leading up to their qualification is: “if I move firms on qualification, will I be looked on as failing at my training firm?”.

The simple answer is emphatically No.

A number of years ago, it was almost expected that you would remain with your training firm upon qualification – every single one of Terry Cape’s trainee intake at Addleshaw Goddard remained with the firm in 2006 – and lateral moves were a little more unheard of, unless you were making a distinct move up in the market.  Admittedly, questions may have been asked about why you sought a move at a time when there were generally more vacancies at each firm than current trainees!

Fast forward a few years and after the most biting financial crisis in history, the situation has changed completely.  The financial reality for law firms of all sizes is that, at any given time, they may not have the resources to retain all of their trainees.  Similarly, if a number of trainees all want to qualify into a particular area, usually employment or commercial litigation, the firm may not have the required budget.

Going off-piste slightly, in the latter situation, some trainees decide to qualify into an area where there is a vacancy – perhaps it was their second choice and it is no hardship to qualify there.  Back in 2009/10, it was perhaps advisable to take any job as external vacancies in certain disciplines were so scarce.  Nowadays, we see more trainees decide to bide their time and wait for the right role to arise elsewhere. Some take some time away travelling.

Should you not be offered a role at your training firm and you move into a NQ position elsewhere, this will not have a harmful effect on your CV or future prospects.  Law firms are fully aware of the situation across the legal market over the past four years and it is perfectly understandable why trainees move on qualification.

You should not base your decision to accept (or not accept) an offer of employment on this worry alone.

If you would like to discuss this blog, have been thinking about a move or would just like some general advice about options in the market, please feel free to contact Terry Cape or Chris Clarke on 0113 2385965.

CapeClarke is a leading niche legal recruitment consultancy operating across Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool and London. Please feel free to check out our priority legal vacancies by clicking here.  Please note these legal vacancies are only a small selection of those we have been instructed on, so please get in touch if you do not see a role which looks suitable.


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