Trainee solicitor, or rabbit in headlights? How to get your NQ job search off to a great start

It’s that time of year again… NQ season. I’ve never been very fond of that term – it makes me think of the old Warner Bros. cartoons with Elmer Fudd pursuing Bugs Bunny during hunting season, conjuring images of trainee solicitors hiding out behind trees and bushes with merciless recruiters and competitor firms trying to draw them out! But it’s not as sinister as that… and trainee lawyers are by no means regarded as prey!


The term ‘NQ season’ might be new to most trainee solicitors reading this blog. It’s a term used by law firms’ internal recruitment teams and external recruiters alike, and refers to the part of the year when trainee solicitors are beginning to speak to their training firms, as well as external firms and recruiters, about their options after qualification.

If you’re a trainee solicitor yourself, this is the time when you might be starting to feel a bit anxious about what comes next. In today’s blog I’ll talk you through the first steps: starting your research, and finding a legal recruiter to work with.


NQ season – where to start your research?

In today’s digital age, information on law firms geared at trainee solicitors is readily available online from sources such as Lawyer2B and Chambers Student, not to mention the various legal profession specific recruitment resources. The national and regional JLD groups are another invaluable platform for trainee solicitors, providing opportunities to network with peers who will be able to give you an insight into what it’s like to work for a firm that might be on your hit list; or they can certainly put you in touch with someone else who can.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve also seen a massive increase in law firms approaching trainee solicitors directly, whether that’s on LinkedIn or under the guise of NQ talks. This direct contact with firms can be useful, but does mean that your information is limited to one source, rather than a comprehensive breakdown of the market and opportunities available.


From candidate to recruiter – what did I learn?

I’m in a good position to advise what it’s like on both sides of the candidate/recruiter fence. I started my career in private practice before spending time working for a local authority in their legal team, and then specialising in legal recruitment for the past six years.

I used to work for a small private practice law firm in Lancashire and, being in my early twenties back then, the bright lights of Manchester beckoned. I wasn’t sure where to start with my search and so I instructed several recruiters to help – I wish I hadn’t! My experience wasn’t a positive one: my CV was sent to roles for which I hadn’t consented, then I was rebuked for not wanting to attend interviews with these firms, my phone would explode with calls and text messages from various sources whenever a new role came out and I often found myself being pushed into things I wasn’t interested in.

Unfortunately, things don’t seem to have changed much for some candidates – every NQ season, without fail, I hear about these sorts of experiences from the trainee solicitors I speak to. There isn’t an NQ season where I don’t hear horror stories of recruiters sending CVs without permission, candidates feeling overwhelmed by the level of contact they receive from several sources, and the general ‘interview fatigue’ candidates feel when they’ve attended several meetings with firms that probably weren’t the right fit for them anyway.

My experience as a candidate has taught me a huge amount about the kind of recruiter I want to be. As a trainee solicitor looking for an NQ role I wanted to be gently advised rather than being given the persuasion treatment, and be shown a range of opportunities but have the final say on where my CV went. A good legal recruiter should do exactly this, as well as going above and beyond to ensure that you’re comfortable with the application process and the kind of roles you’re being shown.


Why’s it worth working with a legal recruiter?

If you were a reader of my NQ blog last year, you may have seen last January’s piece on when and how to work with a legal recruiter. All sound advice, but let’s go back to basics – why should you bother with a legal recruiter in the first place? And what makes Florit Brooke such a good choice?


This is a given for us. We will never forward your CV details to a firm without first fully briefing you on an opportunity.


We have decades of experience and a demonstrable record in legal recruitment covering both private practice and in-house, especially in the Leeds and wider Yorkshire legal jobs market. At Florit Brooke we pride ourselves on taking a truly consultative approach in the way we work with candidates and clients alike, to ensure we deliver the best service for everyone. We are also able to offer career coaching as part of our service.

Full client list

We are among the select few Yorkshire legal recruiters who are on the preferred supplier lists for the leading national, international and regional firms with offices in Leeds. It’s important that you choose a recruiter you know can cover all options for you in terms of your search for a new role – and we know we can deliver.


FloBro HQ is in the centre of Leeds – we live and work in the city, are active in the local business community, and we know the region well. It’s surprising how many legal recruiters purporting to be local are actually not familiar with the area at all, which and means they don’t have the relationships with regional firms that they say they do. We practice what we preach.


It’s not just easier for us to manage your applications and interviews if you’re only working with us; it’s easier for you, too. Working with Florit Brooke means you won’t keep hearing about the same role numerous times from several recruiters, and you won’t have to keep track of multiple applications while going back and forth with diary availability – we can take care of all of that for you.


Our record and reputation speak for themselves. Those of you who network within the Leeds legal community will know we’re well-respected in the region: we know our stuff, we aren’t pushy, and we never mislead our candidates or make decisions for them.


So, if you’re a junior lawyer but feeling more like a rabbit in the headlights this NQ season, do get in touch with us at Florit Brooke for a confidential conversation or market overview. We’re here to assist with specific questions, and are happy to give support and guidance on navigating this period of your careers.

And remember, our NQ Solicitors’ Survival Guide 2018 is still available to download for free – get the guide today.

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