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Invited for a "general chat" - help?!

(24 Posts)
littleblonde123 Sun 07-Feb-16 15:49:27

Hi everyone,

I sent a speculative email to a local firm (legal sector) questioning whether they would consider taking on a part-trained trainee solicitor or a newly qualified solicitor (when I reach that stage).

They asked me to send in a cv and subsequently sent me an email saying that although they had "no current plans, it would be good to meet for a general chat next week should any future opportunities arise".

What can I expect from this "chat"? It feels very strange knowing there's no actual job on the table. I assume it will be much like a normal interview?

Does anybody have any advice on what I can expect and how to go about following it up after the "chat" without seeming too pushy?


Mrscog Sun 07-Feb-16 18:24:59

It's not my sector but I would go armed with any questions you might have (including some about the firm) and also think of some of the advantages they would gain by having you as a trainee or NQ solictor so you can drop those in to your answers.

fascicle Sun 07-Feb-16 20:08:56

Not my field either, but I would advise preparing for it (as far as you can without knowing the specifics of possible opportunities) as though it were a formal interview, since they will be assessing your general suitability, even if there is no current vacancy. Do as much research as you can - presumably their website will give an idea of the areas of the law they specialise in and the positions in which they currently employ people. Be prepared for hypothetical questions about application of the law as well as questions about you and your cv.

How to follow it up will probably depend on the information/timescales of any likely opportunities they mention when you see them.

Good luck.

littleblonde123 Mon 08-Feb-16 17:54:38

Thanks for your replies! I'll take all the advice on board and go in as prepared as possible.

It's been years since I last had an interview so I feel a bit nervous, especially with the fact that there isn't an actual job on offer so I don't know what department they'd consider taking someone on for - I might be totally barking up the wrong tree.

I'm probably overthinking it and should probably go in with a view that it probably won't lead anywhere and if it does, it's a bonus. I've done plenty of digging on their website and think I have a pretty decent idea about the firm and what they offer.

Would it be weird to take in copies of my cv and any relevant bits such as my university module grades with it being a "general chat" rather than an official interview? I want to be prepared but I don't want to look too pushy or presumptious.

Sorry if I'm asking daft questions, as I say it's been years since I've had an interview and I've never had one of these weird, informal, "maybe we might give you a job one day" ones! I really like the look of firm which adds more pressure.

OzzieFem Mon 08-Feb-16 18:37:05

Take everything relevant to your training and yes, your CV. Better to be prepared in case they do ask, that shows you are organised and that you are serious about your inquiry. Good luck.

littleblonde123 Mon 08-Feb-16 19:04:22

Do you think I should take my training file with me? For anyone not in the legal sector, trainees have to keep a weekly reflective log of work they've done and what competencies each piece of work hits, what they've learned from the task etc. My file is huge as I have copies of pieces of my work attached to the log - it's a full lever arch file so I thought taking that would be way ott?

littleblonde123 Mon 08-Feb-16 19:05:39

And also...thanks for the wishes of good luck. I think I'm going to need it grin

allthegoodnamesalreadytaken Mon 08-Feb-16 19:42:14

Hi little I'm a solicitor. Usually this is to get a "feel" of you, see where you are with your training, what seats you've done so far and what you've learned etc. The will be wanting you to basically be a fee earner and earn money from day one and your ability to do this will depend on what type of training you've had so far and where you would "fit" in the organisation if you were to join them. They will also want to see that you are keeping abreast of all the changes in law at the moment and the issues affecting firms so have a read of the Law Gazette before the "chat" and see what are hot topics at the mo and the various opinions on these. More generally have a read about the firm, what areas of law they specialise in and what types of clients are their demographic etc. I've been there with the training contracts etc and I know how hard it is so good luck

littleblonde123 Mon 08-Feb-16 20:19:55

Ah thanks so much, so useful to hear from somebody who's been there and done it all before!

I've been trying to keep up to speed with the law gazette since being invited for the chat, they have a PI department and I was aware of the change to the small claims limit being an issue for them but wanted to know more about it. I'm not so hot on some of the issues affecting their other departments though so I'll have to do some more reading.

As somebody with experience in this field...

1) Do you think taking my training record along is overkill?

2) Is this the kind of thing a firm is likely to do purely as a fishing expedition in case something comes up at some point in the future so they've already got me sussed if I apply, or would you think there's more of a genuine chance of an opening that they think I might fit? I'm conscious of not reading too much into it.

I think I need to sit and think of competencies they may want me to demonstrate from past experiences at work and write down my stories of what I did so they're clear in my head. It would be my luck all over to have a complete mind blank!

One of my big concerns is that most of my training has been in crime and the other firm don't have a crime department. I hope I can get across that my experience will be transferable though, as I genuinely do believe it will be. Getting nervous blush

allthegoodnamesalreadytaken Mon 08-Feb-16 21:01:50

Also I wouldn't bother taking your uni module stuff. When I've been interviewing candidates for training contracts in the past I haven't taken any notice of that (that can all be checked by HR later on) someone once gave me an entire file to look at during a TC interview - I glanced at it to be polite but didn't really take any notice of the content

allthegoodnamesalreadytaken Mon 08-Feb-16 21:08:26

Sorry posted before I had finished writing. No I don't think it's a fishing expedition really - time is a valuable asset as a lawyer - each hour you're not at your desk is chargeable time wasted. So for someone to take time out of their day and sit to speak with you shows interest and shows they consider it as a valuable use of their time. If they like you, you'll probably get an invitation to apply at the end of the chat or shortly afterwards.

A crime background shows established litigation skills so that's transferable to other areas such as PI, Family, child protection etc. Talk up any experience you've had around drafting documents, going to court, client contact etc as that can all apply to PI. It may also be that with the decline in PI work the firm is looking to establish a crime department as a way of bringing in new income - you never know

fastdaytears Mon 08-Feb-16 21:14:56

Hi! Another solicitor here.

Recruitment consultants and advertising cost tons so these sort of approaches do sometimes work.

Don't take your training record (I completed two weeks of mine and no one ever asked for it) but do have examples of what you've enjoyed working on. Be as commercial as possible so if you've found a way of streamlining something, or getting work on or whatever then mention that.
I guess if you're asking about a part-qualified move then you're not totally happy where you're training, but keep it classy! They may want some dirt on the competition (I would...)
Good luck!

littleblonde123 Mon 08-Feb-16 22:00:03

Thanks for the advice everyone, I'm so glad I came to this forum! I'm so grateful for everyone's input.

I actually am happy at my firm and would be really sad to leave but my firm is really small and I'd like to open myself up to training in family. My firm don't have a family dept and the other firm have a brilliant reputation for it.

Also the criminal legal aid reforms were recently scrapped which has put my chances of securing a NQ job back quite a way, although my boss has told me he'll do everything in his power to keep me when I qualify. The other trainee qualifies in a few months time and has been warned that they may be unable to keep him on now that the reforms have gone down the pan. That's what prompted me to have a serious think about my future and approach this other firm.

I've been roped in to assist with our crown court billing in recent months to cover maternity leave (tiny firm problems! Ha) which has given me a much better insight into the importance of accurate time recording and the firm as a business as well as a service, which I hope the other firm will appreciate.

I'm a police station rep too so I have tonnes of client facing experience with no supervision, ran my own case load in the crime department so I'm really confident with drafting applications and the like. I know that realistically I have a lot of good experience to offer, I just hope it's what they're looking for and that they're open to letting me train into something I haven't done before.

Think I need to take a breath and have a cuppa don't I blush brew

Shakey15000 Mon 08-Feb-16 22:02:31

I'm not a lawyer.

I have zero advice.

But I just wanted to wish you luck smile

littleblonde123 Mon 08-Feb-16 22:06:12

Thanks Shakey, how lovely that there are still some nice people in the world (and indeed on mumsnet!) grin

littleblonde123 Fri 12-Feb-16 11:29:38

Just got back from the "chat" - it was a full blown interview! They even asked what my salary expectations are shock

I have a gut feeling that I won't get it as they're interviewing a few other people apparently, but at the very least I can put it down to good experience and I think I did fairly well in the interview.

Felt so much more confident having advice from the wonderful people of mumsnet so thank you everybody flowers

MrsMargoLeadbetter Fri 12-Feb-16 16:39:17

Well done. But that is a bit sneaky of them!

Do you want it?

littleblonde123 Fri 12-Feb-16 16:49:27

I do want it, provided there's a vacancy in the area I made it clear that I was interested in. I do like where I am now though so if I don't get it, it won't be the end of the world, I'll just have to have another good think about where I see my career going.

I do believe that what's meant to be will be!

fascicle Sat 13-Feb-16 11:40:53

Even if you don't get it, sounds like you gave it your all and as you say, it's good experience. Helpful too for deciding what you do/don't want careerwise. smile

littleblonde123 Mon 22-Feb-16 18:41:59

So I've been invited back for a second interview...I thought they'd asked me everything there was to know last time!

What on earth do I expect this time round?! Also, any tips on how to handle the "what's your salary expectations?" question?

fascicle Tue 23-Feb-16 09:41:36

That's good news, littleblonde. In your shoes, I would contact them and get an idea of what the next interview will entail, who might be present etc. What did you say about salary expectations in the first chat, and did they offer any clarity about job opportunities? It's difficult to be specific otherwise.

littleblonde123 Tue 23-Feb-16 10:11:04

I just told them that I would need to take some time to consider my salary expectations as I hadn't given it thought at that early stage given that no vacancy was actually advertised and I didn't know if a job was even on the cards at that point.

They were a bit vague on potential vacancies - essentially saying they wanted to succession plan and expand their commercial, employment and family departments. Family is where my interest lies.

I find it difficult to know what is a reasonable expectation for a trainee/NQ as I'm so hideously underpaid in my current role! I have no idea what is usual in my area (Northern England, small town) despite my best efforts of googling.

OzzieFem Tue 23-Feb-16 14:35:29

littleblonde123 Tue 23-Feb-16 20:45:09

Ozzie - I wish that was the average in my area!! Ha grin

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