The Importance of Being Pragmatic in Your Job Search

Posted on 30/1/2020 by Kelly Reid

In this instalment of "Advice from Realm", we look at why it is important to be pragmatic in your job search. Although this particular piece focuses on private client law, it is an insightful perspective for lawyers from all walks of life.

The Importance of Being Pragmatic in Your Job Search

Have you ever come across a job opportunity but dismissed it immediately because it didn’t sound like the move for you?

I sometimes come across solicitors who have the required skills and experience for a role but promptly turn down the opportunity because the job description is too narrow, or in some cases, broader than they are used to. This can lead to them missing out on fantastic career opportunities at top-calibre law firms.

Leading city centre firms such as Mills & Reeve, Addleshaw Goddard and Napthens all boast private client teams recognised by the Legal 500. However, despite their impressive credentials, because their private client teams are made up of specialist sub-teams that deal with a specific niche of private client, these firms sometimes struggle to find and retain lawyers. Part of the reason for this is that private client solicitors with more general experience worry that by working at these firms, they will be pigeonholed into, for example, probate or tax and estates and will be stuck working within a single area.

Often, while at first glance, an opportunity at one of these firms might not look suitable, it might help to broaden a lawyer’s experience and expertise, perfectly positioning them to apply for their dream role later down the line. What’s more, having a Legal 500 firm on their CV will make them more attractive to other employers should they to move on again in the future.

Each of the top-150 firms mentioned above handles high-quality work within their sub-teams such as high-net-worth probate and estates matters. For private client solicitors who have spent much of their careers working at smaller regional firms and are used to handling a more varied caseload, the prospect of joining a Legal 500 firm might be daunting. They might worry that they don’t have the specialist expertise required and overlook the significant exposure to top-calibre work and the development opportunities on offer.

However, in my experience, firms always welcome applications from talented solicitors with private client experience who can demonstrate a willingness to build upon their existing skills, even if they haven’t worked at a similar size firm before.

I recently helped a solicitor with 4 years’ PQE make the move from a smaller regional firm at which she dealt with a mixed bag of private client cases to a Probate Practitioner Role at a Top 50 city centre law firm.  As she is moving to a tier 1 law firm, the work she will be dealing with will include complex and technical cases, such as wills and LPAs, which will help her to develop as a solicitor.

Last year, I worked with another candidate who had, so far in her career, done pure probate work at a multi-service firm. She has just secured a job at a leading private client boutique where she will be handling a broader private client caseload. The firm she is joining are keen to invest in her development by way of training courses, so she will be significantly building on her experience. Her salary is likely to increase as she expands her skillset and gains more experience in different areas.

If you work within a single area of private client like my candidate, you may have the opportunity to broaden your skillset by joining a practice with a wider private client offering. Equally, if you are have gained a broader range of experience at a smaller practice, moving to a larger, high-calibre law firm that deals with high-quality work will undoubtedly be a step up, even if the area you will be working within is more niche.

While it is certainly important to think about how a job opportunity might help you to reach your long-term career goals, you should also think about whether a role is suitable in terms of your other priorities. Our earlier blog might help you to clarify exactly what it is you’re looking for in your next career move. For example, will working at the firm in question cut your commute in half or allow you to work from home? Larger firms are more likely to offer more in the way of benefits and flexibility, but many smaller practices now also allow their solicitors a degree of flexibility when it comes to their working hours. Looking at a role more broadly in terms of how it might benefit you and your career long-term as well as your immediate work-life balance is crucial.

Looking to take your next step?

If you're thinking about making your next move, at Realm, we can help you. Our specialist consultants can give you an insight into the market and provide advice and guidance to help you get where you want to be. 

For a confidential chat about your career options, get in touch with us today. Call our team on 03300 245 606 or visit our website to see our latest legal vacancies in private client, personal injury, property and family law.

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