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Miserable at work - small law firm tips(16 Posts)
I’m a trainee solicitor, due to qualify this year and I am so miserable at work. I could really do with some guidance / tips on how to get through the remaining months.
I enjoy the work a lot. It’s a small firm though and there are “characters”, which creates atmosphere in the office. I’ve very much been thrown in at the deep end during my training which has been really good in terms of experience gained but really difficult in finding my feet. There is no support (administrative support is weak, if available) and my manager - when I have raised support - has pooh-poohed it. Others in the firm have noticed how hard I work and that my work is completed to a good standard. With my manager (who is also the senior partner), I often feel as though nothing is good enough and they are often very rude and passive aggressive. Today alone I’ve had a piece of work looked at, feedback was given very aggressively and I was told to do xyz but had already done so - they just hadn’t read it properly.
I feel really down about it all, I’ve started looking for NQ roles on job boards but the market is quiet for now. I would really appreciate some advice on how to leave work at work and try not to let this bother me.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
All I can recommend is to focus on the end game. Once you are qualified no one can take it away from you. You've worked hard for that for years of study and training, and you know your words speaks for itself.
TheVeryHungryDieter - thanks, that makes me feel a lot better. I am working in London (sadly not on a fantastic London salary!) and expect I will get screwed over when it comes to NQ salaries at my firm too. I asked for a raise and got the usual guff - the firm isn’t making much money etc. My billables are high- I was hired after a qualified solicitor left, as seems common in smaller firms and I’ve matched that persons billables in my time there but of course that doesn’t count.
The benefits are, frankly, non-existent too. 20 days holiday, firm shuts between Xmas and new year but have to use holiday for it, when I want to take holiday it’s made into a really big deal, get told to make time up if I need to pop out for whatever reason despite me working extra hours etc.
Can I ask what area of public sector you’re in? I have considered it if I can find something closer to home but I don’t know if I would find it too beaurocratic or restrictive, especially in terms of career profession and pay.
Sorry that should say career progression.
If you’re in London you should go and see a legal recruiter. There are lots. Go and talk to them and explore your options. Then hopefully you’ll find something and all you’ll have to do is qualify and then you can leave. Honestly: go see a consultant.
I'm not a lawyer but I would second getting into public sector if you can. You won't have the most glamorous high flying law career but you will find better work life balance and better benefits in terms of holidays, flexi-hours and pension. Far more women at the top in public sector and they are far more understanding/offer more part-time roles if you want a family.
Business background here and a lot older than you I should imagine but I now work for the NHS and love it!
I have spoken to a couple of recruiters but honestly the market is quiet at the moment. It’s expected to pick up but is Brexit dependent and I’m also probably being a bit impatient.
I really hope this question doesn’t offend anyone but how do you accept that you don’t have high flying career? My boyfriend earns a lot more than me, and I want to push myself to try and earn similar. I know it’s not a competition etc but after spending most of my life working hard and striving for the next thing and being really goal orientated how do I then accept that my career becomes stagnant. And also, why should I let it? I appreciate that these are all hypotheticals and it’s really hard trying to find a balance. I suppose I don’t want to then go and work for a local authority (whose legal dept salaries vary widely!) and then after a few years find I’m bored and now what do I do?
Honestly? You change your definition of ‘success’.
I was a lawyer at a MC firm. Deep down I hated it but wanted to have the ‘successful career’ so kept going.
I’m now leading a charity with a husband who’s got the most amazing business career. Seriously incredible. But I don’t care: I’ve changed what I see as success. I’m contented, am making a difference, have control over my hours, can pick my kids up from school etc etc. That to me is success, not grinding away churning out billable hours, my life dependent on when my boss says I can leave the office....
So maybe re-evaluate what you see as important?
I wrote a long reply, but it might be too identifying - so you can pm me if you want to know more about what I do in the civil service.
As long as I can pay the bills, money isn't my driving motivation - exciting work is. I get to do very high quality, challenging work on newsworthy topics, it's extremely rewarding. And I do it in a four day week.
I agree very much with @ricepolo - you broaden your view of success and look at the rewards of the career differently. It's not the partnership track, but I look at progression differently in that it exists in terms of opening up more varied opportunities, rather than the single path to partnership. Ever since I've put it on my LinkedIn and passed the first year there, I'm headhunted about once a week for both PP and in-house roles, despite not looking. And if I want to do, say, human rights litigation, pharmaceuticals, or education, or financial services, I can always put in for a move to another department and follow my interests. This is especially great for me because I didn't get the seats I wanted during my TC, had to take a double in one area and felt trapped in a specialism I didn't want to do. Financial services and pensions experience are very marketable in particular, and several colleagues have made onward moves to regulators or ombudsman bodies where the pay is better.
There are vacancies out there. Try looking at firm's websites as well as going to a recruiter. Not all vacancies are open to all recruiters.
Not all firms tolerate the sort of behaviour you are having to put up with.
What are you seeking to qualify into? When do you actually qualify?
Definitely speak to a good legal recruiter - market might be quiet now but the bottom line is there is a lack of good lawyers talent is scarce.
PM and I can offer more advice.
PS public sector isn't always the way forward - there are better commercial firms out there, in-house (corp/commercial, FS etc lots of options esp in London).
Much depends on what area you want to qualify into.
Have you considered looking outside of London? A lot of London firms are expanding their presence outside of London and there are good opportunities for career progression for those who are willing to relocate.
Stagnant?? I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick. If money is your primary motivation and your definition of success you need to think realistically about whether it’s likely to happen for you in a straightforward legal career progresssion. Presumably if you could have gotten a trainee position at a big high-paying firm you would have. There are so, so very many ways to have an exciting, fulfilling, interesting career. And if you plan to have children you may find that your prioriyjes change then. (Maybe not of course. But you can’t predict that.) If your boyfriend is “the one” then you should be glad he makes so mich money, as it will give you a lot more choices long term. It’s hard to explain but as long as you’re making a decent living the big money/status stuff just gets less and less important. If you can spend your life in the public sector, in house, or wherever and actually enjoy your career AND spend time with your family, that to me is the definition of success.
If all you want is money you should be in an MBA course or entry level finance position instead of law.
To those of you who have said I can PM for advice, I have done. Thank you.
TheBhagwan - sorry if you have taken offence to my question. I didn’t mean it in that way, only in so far as it’s not the “typical” progression route. It’s not just about money but I would like to be comfortable financially and not entirely reliant on someone else, especially when who knows what will happen in the future. I do agree it is about the type of work you do and what interests you but when you are used to success looking a certain way and then you are in a position that can challenge it, it takes some thinking. I got my role through circumstance, I sort of fell into it. I don’t want to go into specifics but I was interviewing at other larger firms and this was a guaranteed job doing high value work. It was a quicker route to qualification and made sense at the time.