Tony Brooke’s view: the NQ solicitors job market in July 2019

Well the Women’s World Cup is done and dusted and as with the NQ jobs market there were predictable winners, surprise results, and some disappointed runners-up….though one event is much more entertaining than the other.

The key with a career is to take a long term view, there is always a future opportunity, there is scope to improve and to better your own standing, and to stay enthused about your prospects and be realistic about what you need to do to achieve your goals. If you’re a candidate who is pleased with your result then that is fantastic. If you are an NQ who feels in some way disappointed with your NQ role then use that as motivation and be patient.

They think it’s all over….

July is gone, and with it I end my blog series relative to the NQ market. The market is not entirely finished, but what was a torrent of candidates and roles is now a steady flow and as a business we have to put our effort into market focus elsewhere until we get in to 2020. We’ve enjoyed encountering new candidates, and hopefully our support has been useful for those who’ve worked with us, and maybe you’ll utilise our services later in your career.

I won’t pretend we performed for everyone – it’s a people business and so not everyone creates as strong a relationship and certainly when people are working with multiple recruiters it can be a reticent connection and fairly stunted communication. I find that what people get out of the relationship is proportional to what they put into it, so enthusiasm and openness is reciprocated but so also is passiveness or standoffish behaviour.

Next time you use a recruiter you won’t be an NQ, you’ll have differentiated your expertise, and with luck you won’t be staring down the barrel of having no role and having no declared commitment from your employer. In those circumstances you can be more secure, make better decisions and be selective in the recruiters you work with and the opportunities you explore. So next time won’t be like this time and you’ll enjoy it a bit more.

…it is now!!

On a personal note I can’t see me doing the NQ focus again next year. I was placing NQs in 1999 so most of them are now Partners if not Heads of Department. (Incidentally, USA won the Women’s World Cup in 1999 too!) 20 years of support and guidance to the new generation of lawyers has been enjoyable, and encouraging to witness fresh enthusiasm and optimism year after year. But it’s fair to say that my effort now needs to be committed more to the partners and senior candidates, and I can trust my colleagues to do just as good a job for the NQs.

On a more basic level my communication style and expectations are of someone in their forties…weirdly old enough to be the dad of the NQs. For my own sanity and self-respect I need to not be clinging on to the thought that I am talking the same language as the new generation, because I am not!! I’ll still be leading Brooke Thornham Consulting and so there will still be input from me, but taking the lead in the NQ market will be somebody else.

I’ll sign off with the words my dad used to say to me every time I went back to university – “DO WELL” – it is short but it is sincere. Make the most of your opportunities, treat people as you’d like to be treated, and be mindful that the legal market is a small one and careers are long so temper your actions accordingly. Do well, and if in the future you feel you’re not doing well enough then drop me a line.


Best wishes,

Tony Brooke

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