It is fast approaching the time when the second year trainees choose (or get shoe-horned into) their NQ positions. There is a sense of tension in the air; rumours of recruiting departments flit about, unsubstantiated and unverified, landing on a poor trainees ear and transforming into fully fledged Chinese whispers at the drop of a hat. Not unsurprisingly, heads of departments run past any and all trainees (mainly because they can't remember what year we are in) to avoid difficult conversations. I have noticed a large number of 'lunch' appointments appearing in the second year diaries, uncomfortable meals with supervisors and mentors to discuss their prospects.
It has made us first years consider our future. Some were ALWAYS going to qualify in one position and couldn't conceive of qualifying into anything else. Others give me the impression that it wouldn't matter what position they were offered as long they had a job. I am somewhere in between: I wouldn't accept a job that I didn't want to do but would compromise if I thought I could practice in what I was offered or could make the transition later on. The problem is, I don't actually know what I want to do!
We are being asked a lot at the moment if we have an idea and my 'none whatsoever' is generally met with a stupefied face. It is as if now we are in our second seat, we should have a clear idea of where we are going. For me, the opposite is true. I thought I had an idea before I started; a destined litigator. Although my first seat confirmed I don't want to go into property, it turns out I am quite good at non-contentious work. My second seat has made me realised I need to be steadily busy all the time to work my best; the peaks and troughs of insolvency are frazzling my brain! Neither has really enthralled me and (despite the boozy side of insolvency that does somewhat appeal) I can't see myself qualifying into either.
I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. I don't have any preference so approach each seat with an open mind. I have not focused my learning on one area to the point that I am useless in anything but that subject and neither am I so certain on my future career that I have written off the compulsory seat that doesn't fit. However, the fact that I am so comparatively clueless is making it very difficult to plan the next move. I am aware I might be missing opportunities that would be useful to me in the future. It must be very comforting to know exactly what you want to do.
I feel like I am back to that point in my a levels when I realised my chosen subjects of maths and art didn't really have any sustainable career options. A little bit lost with a lot options that sound too good to choose from. But how do I narrow it down? Back then I did a lot of taster sessions and work experience before settling on law because it felt right. I regret not getting some more legal work experience when I had the time. Doing a stint in a family department helped me exclude legal aid work, if I had done more I might have more of an idea now (take heed trainees-in-waiting!!). I don't think I will have quite the same opportunity now; can you imagine if I asked to split my third seat into 6 bite size chunks?
Luckily I am an optimist and am content to wait for now until something fits. Law felt right, I am sure one of my seats will slot in to place in time. Lets just hope that seat has a job this time next year or you will be reading the new improved Miss Unemployed. Promise I will keep the heels though!
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
Tuesday, 12 April 2011
|The jury's out on beards..............|
This comes in the same week that Allen & Overy tell female trainees to lengthen their skirts and shorten their heels. Who knows what they were wearing to prompt such an internal memo but you can just imagine the skirt yanking going on after it went round!
It is an attractive thought that trainees are valued for their input and talent, how good their work is and the effort they put in. I think almost all trainees at one point (an early point!) hope they will be hired on that basis. In today's NQ market this is a dream. The competition is fierce and not only are the hiring firms looking for the whole package but they will find it very easy to rule out those who give them a reason to.
Monday, 4 April 2011
|Think they'd get the message if I sent some of these?|
A matter I have been doing a little bit of work on has made me question this approach. Our client is a neutral third party in a case that can only be described as a ridiculous waste of money. The claimant company has launched a side attack to the main application that is literally impossible. Not only has it no proof, the people it has issued against are not sufficiently senior in the defendant corporation to carry any responsibility even if they had done the acts in question. Despite this, the claimant has not only has accused and issued in court but is refusing to settle. To top it off, all of the evidence showing the claim to be nothing but spurious was submitted to court in the main claim and circulated to all parties. The solicitors acting for the claimant really dropped the ball on this one. Or did they?
Having read the correspondence there is a definite sense of reluctance on the solicitors part, as if they were pursuing the claim half-heartedly, hoping we would give in to save costs. Almost as if they knew it was ridiculous but had to go along with it anyway. The company is a big company, no doubt their solicitors act for them in a general way, not just for disputes. A major client. Telling a big, money spinning client the claim won't stick might seem like bad client relations. The client is unlikely to be happy about it short term. Maybe the retainer is coming up for review. Perhaps there are is a large amount of WIP to be billed and the solicitors want to keep them sweet. Maybe the client is a bit of a bulldozer.
Whatever the difficulty, all they should have said is NO. A solicitor does his client no favours by running up fees on all sides and exposing their client to a potential costs order. It might keep the client on side in the short term but when it all back fires down the road do you think the relationship will be a good one? A lawyer should act with the best interests of the client in mind and that includes telling them when they're wrong. Good business men value a truthful advisor more than one that simply does what he is told. Ultimately your client will realise when you play the yes man. That is not what he is paying you for.
So I am not going to listen to the 'never say no' strategy marketing has been dishing out. A blanket yes approach is not what I would want from a solicitor and I bet it's not what the clients expect. I will be giving honest advise, especially when I need to say no and hope that my clients realise the value in this approach. It is more likely to generate respect and a good client relationship than pandering to needs.
It is also worth remembering the clients that aren't happy are the ones who are likely to turn nasty. After all, after the claimant in my case has a giant costs order awarded against him, who do you think he will be suing to foot the bill? The solicitors who didn't stop him look like they might have a target on their chests........