What Family Solicitors Really (Really) Want

Posted on 2/4/2019 by Paula Pawlowska

I love recruiting family solicitors. They are a fantastic bunch of people, social creatures that are brilliant at networking (they really do love talking!) who know absolutely everyone.

But what makes them love their jobs? I’ve specialised in family law recruitment for long enough to notice a number of common themes in terms of what they are looking for in their careers.

Over the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to a number of family solicitors at different stages in the career, from family paralegal to family associate. I asked them what they had been looking for before they moved to their current role and what their short- to medium-term career goals were within family law. Here’s what they had to say...

Paralegal – Natalie, McAlister Family Law

What did you want out of your next role?

I really wanted somewhere I could progress in my next role, somewhere I would want to stay long-term, build connections and get great experience and training. For me, being young, working in the city centre was also important, so I could socialise both with work colleagues and outside of work.

What do you want out of your job short to medium term as an experienced family paralegal?

As a paralegal short to medium term, I want to work somewhere with a nice environment; a nice office with simple perks to boost morale. Because I don’t have a lot of other commitments, I’m not too fussed about flexible working but know that it’s a good option that some firms offer. Money-wise, I’d like to progress as I take on more responsibility and gain more experience, however as a paralegal, the day-to-day experience and training is more important, as I work towards becoming a qualified solicitor. Since moving to my current role, I’ve really enjoyed working in an open-plan office. You feel like more of a team and you get to communicate with colleagues you maybe wouldn’t normally. Going forward, I’d like to do more charity work. I think it’s great when firms take part in charity events.

NQ Solicitor – Alexandra, Maguire Family Law

As an NQ, what did you want out of your first job as a family solicitor?

The key things I looked at were the type of family law (i.e. if I could get experience in areas I'd not done before to widen my knowledge), legal aid vs. private, the level of supervision and support, (it’s really important for NQs to feel supported when finding their feet), the location of office and then perhaps salary (but this wasn't the main factor).

What you want out of your job short to medium-term as a junior family solicitor?

My own caseload, increased client relationships, to improve my knowledge/experience/confidence and hopefully progress to associate! 

Junior Solicitor – Lucy, Vardags

What did you want out of your role when starting as a 2 PQE (junior) solicitor?

I can easily answer this in three words: challenge, recognition, reward. For me, it is these three things that, day-to-day, keep you motivated and enjoying work but are surprisingly difficult to find. I can safely say that, since I have been at Vardags, those three factors are very much there.

I am exposed to complex, innovative work on a daily basis and I am constantly learning and developing.

What came as a bonus was the positive working environment I have; it makes a huge difference day-to-day. Even on the tough days, we all manage to make each other laugh.

What do you want out of your job short to medium term?

In the short time I’ve been at Vardags I have already been given a great deal of responsibility. My goal for the short to medium term is, therefore, to build on this and work towards the step up to associate.

Associate – Madelaine, Kuits

What did you want out of your role when starting as an associate?

I wanted the associate role largely to be an acknowledgement of the progress I had made and recognition of what I was now bringing to the team. You tend to have to show yourself working at associate level in order to get there, rather than being made associate and then taking on new challenges as part of that role, so I'm not really doing anything differently since being promoted. As an associate, I do feel that certain clients view me as having greater authority and that was important to me especially given the size of our team.

What do you want out of your job short to medium term?

Short to medium term I want to continue to work in a supportive and friendly team who I have fun with. The vast majority of life is spent at work and your colleagues really are a second family. As I'll be returning from maternity leave in the summer it's also important to me that the firm I work in has a supportive culture and places importance on a good work-life balance. Ultimately I would like to be able to work flexibly around my family's needs without worrying that this will stunt my professional development and career progression.

Are you looking to take your next step as a family solicitor or family paralegal?

While every family solicitor is different, it’s clear that for most people, money is far from the most important factor when considering a role. Instead, challenging work and responsibility, a friendly team and being recognised for their work and experienced are more often more important.

To learn more about the family market, please get in touch for a confidential conversation or explore our latest family solicitor vacancies. Call Paula Pawlowska on 03300 245 606 or email paula.pawlowska@realmrecruit.com

Paula specialises in recruiting family and childcare solicitors, including matrimonial solicitors, across the North West, Yorkshire and the West Midlands. She has a thorough understanding of the family law market in these areas and can help you take your next step.

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