Qualified decisions

May 1, 2013

You’re qualifying in September. Focus on what you enjoy doing, says The Survivalist

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One question the Survivalist gets asked quite a bit is, “Should I move on qualification?”

Now, the Survivalist is a bit of a cynic, and the last thing he’s gonna do is advise some fresh-faced noob who can’t tell their elbow from their rear-end to poke their head out of the bunker unnecessarily.

But seriously, it is a consideration. As a few of you are probably coming up to qualify in September, you may already have started looking around.

There’s nothing wrong with this. For a kick-off, you might have to as your firm might not want to retain you. Or they might only be able to offer you something you don’t really want to do.

I don’t envy you. As I’ve said in blogs passim, what you decide now can set your life irrevocably on a particular track, so it’s a decision not to be taken lightly.

If you decide to stay put – perhaps you simply like the firm – it’s worth thinking about what you’re offered. It’s much better to take a banking job in a firm renowned for its banking department than it is to join the firm’s intellectual property department if they’re not even on the map.

The quality of work, clients and training will all be much better if it’s a core strength than a backwater.

Death and taxes

If you’re fairly open-minded, it’s also worth thinking about future career prospects. Corporate is always a good one. Finance, too. You’ll never go short of a job as a tax lawyer, if that’s your bag.

More exotic disciplines can be interesting, but there are generally fewer firms in the market so it might be more difficult to move on in time.

Litigation is a choice beloved of many trainees as it tends to feel more interesting and more like ‘real law’ at this stage. But repeated onslaughts by government (Woolf, Jackson) have made it quite an embattled area and partnership prospects may not be as good as transactional disciplines down the track.

Ten Year View

Trouble is, no-one – not even the Survivalist – has a crystal ball. Chances are you’ll be in this career for thirty or forty years, and none of us knows what law is going to look like even in ten. The best bet is to pick what you most enjoy, as you’re more likely to be good at it as a result.

Ultimately, doing what you want to do – or as near as you can get – is probably going to be more important than anything else. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a career you don’t enjoy, where you don’t feel you have any purpose (the Survivalist is something of an expert on that, so trust me).

So, getting out to do what you want to do has to take priority over earning a ton more moolah. Stay frosty. TS 

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