Taking a leap into the legal market

Dawn Gillard is Shoosmiths’ recruitment advisor based in Birmingham, here she shares her advice on how to put yourself in the best position when searching for your next legal role.


It’s a busy legal world out there with a variety of firms, locations and roles to choose from, and once you’ve completed your training contract there’s limited advice on how to begin exploring the market to see what other opportunities could be open to you.

So where, and how do you start?

Here are some of my tips on things to consider and how to approach your job search.

First things first, you need to think carefully about what you’re looking for. What is it in particular you don’t like or aren’t getting in your current role? And more importantly, what do you want from your next role? Think about the type of firm, culture, the role, clients, the type of work they do and the flexibility you want. You need to be targeted and specific about which roles and firms you apply to, and tailor each application.

Then, use your network!

Speak to your friends that are at other firms about their experiences to help you build a good idea of the reality of other firms, their culture and work.

When you have a clearer picture in your mind of what you’re looking for here are the next steps you should take:

1. Prepare your CV. Take some time and attention over this - it will be time well-spent. This is the first impression the hiring manager/partners will have of you, and the old adage is right – you won’t get a second chance at a first impression! Consider your content, make sure you include your work highlights - examples of some of the most high-value, complex and challenging transactions or cases that you’ve taken the lead on and been involved in. But be mindful not to list every deal or file that you’ve worked on!

2. Have a look on LinkedIn and firm web sites to see if any of your ideal firms are currently recruiting. All of our vacancies are posted on our web site, LinkedIn and Indeed, so you have the chance to apply for any opportunities directly. You should also connect with in house recruiters on LinkedIn which will mean you can follow all of their updates so when any new jobs go live, you’ll know. Also send them a note to ask questions about any of the vacancies they have, it’s always great when candidates reach out to us directly. So if you’re reading this and currently considering your career options, please do send me a message or connect with me on LinkedIn!

3. Speak to your friends at other firms to see if they could refer you for a role. 11% of our roles are filled by internal referrals, and most firms have an employee referral scheme so there could be an added incentive to apply via this route!

4. Again - use your network. Consider emailing partners or other legal advisors that you’ve worked on the other side from and have built up a good relationship with, to see if they might be hiring. If not, ask them to keep you in mind in the future if anything comes up.

5. Speak to a legal recruitment agency. One that you know and have built a relationship with, but more importantly, one that you trust and feel will represent you accurately in the market and with law firms. You don’t want your CV and personal details being sent to firms without your consent (hopefully less likely now with GDPR legislation). I suggest you speak to just one or two agents, to ensure your CV and details aren’t sent too widely at the same time. And when you’re speaking to the agents, ask them which firms they work with closely, and if they have someone that is dedicated to just looking after your practice area/location. Then be very clear that you only want your details to be sent across to firms where you have given your express consent, then keep a list of those applications that have been made on your behalf, so you don’t make any duplicate applications.

Making job applications and joining a new firm is a big decision, so hopefully these tips can offer you some useful structure and guidance. And if you’re thinking about making a move, we’ve got some excellent vacancies nationally so get in touch with me directly through my LinkedIn profile.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post, you may also be interested in watching our Facebook Live video “How to approach your NQ applications” or looking at the Shoosmiths’ current vacancies here.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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