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Ex Solicitor - what now?

(25 Posts)
deraila Tue 04-Nov-14 13:47:31

Hi, another thread where inspiration is sought.

I have ceased practicing as a solicitor in 2012 and since then have only been employed 6 months in 2 separate temp jobs.

I was a post qualified solicitor for 3 years, with 10 months of those on maternity. I dont want to work in ANY legal environment.

Really struggling and dont know what to do as I have few contacts now.

DC2 is coming up to 8 months soon and I need to have a job that covers x2 under 5 year old full time nursery bills.

Feeling quite sad that in nearly 2.5 years, Ive only managed to get two temp jobs.

As vague as my post is, does anyone have ideas for me?

Im waiting to hear if i qualify for Contribution JSA and have to do 35 whole hours of job seeking activity per week - that will be fun with a pre schooler with 15 hours funded and a small baby. Needs must though - i'm not cut out to stay at home any longer.

Aridane Tue 04-Nov-14 14:46:22

As a matter of interest, why don't you want to work in any legal environment?

MillionPramMiles Tue 04-Nov-14 16:42:06

Contract management roles perhaps (eg most 'supplier' companies have contract managers).
Have you looked at in house legal roles (assuming you came from private practice)? They're often more likely to be part-time and the hours can be better.
There are also legal consultancy roles but these won't give a guaranteed income.

By not keeping touch with colleagues and not wanting to remain in the field you've trained in, it's not going to be easy.

deraila Tue 04-Nov-14 18:14:45

aah, long story....

didnt end up working in the type of law i wanted- took a job as it was the only training contract offer i got, then was stuck in it and felt that i was just left to work it all out myself in a failing small high street practice. had no clue what i was doing and supervisor said i should be picking things up, etc, etc. struggled for 5 years and was on a very low salary of around 26k 3 yrs pqe with confidence at zero and probably undiagnosed stress.

the firm is now closed and the trainees who were there when i handed my notice in are now left without qualifying as solicitors and the other NQ no longer practices as a solicitor.

my two best friends are still solicitors and ive moved away from where i practiced. ive been away from law for 2.5 years.

atoughyear Tue 04-Nov-14 18:18:24

Why don't you think about starting your own business? As for which type of business, you could think about your interests and work from there. Don't fall into the trap of doing things that everyone else is doing. Look for the next big thing. You have the intellect and drive to do it smile

minipie Wed 05-Nov-14 13:49:07

Sounds more like a problem with the firm and the type of law rather than law itself? So maybe worth reconsidering the law - awful though your experience was, it might well be different if you were somewhere better managed and doing the type of work you wanted to do. It's certainly your best chance of a well paid job.

What was the area you wanted to work in? Would it be worth contacting legal recruitment firms (there are LOADS!) to see if you might get taken on as an NQ in your preferred area somewhere? Or even try local law firms to see if they want an NQ in your preferred area?

Legal recruiters could also advise you about in house possibilities - I suspect you'd not have quite enough PQE for most in house jobs, and it also depends on your specialism, but could be worth thinking about as a medium term plan (eg "2 more years in private practice then I move to in house").

Just one other idea ... it might be cheaper to use a childminder or even a nanny (esp if you can nannyshare) than pay 2 sets of nursery fees for 2 under 5s

Amateurish Wed 05-Nov-14 15:21:05

In house might be worth a look - e.g. in a local authority where the pay should be reasonable, you'll get good benefits and normally family friendly work environment. 2/3 years PQE is a valuable commodity.

deraila Wed 05-Nov-14 16:48:45

I would love to do law again but really dont think its "me".

Im naturally scruffy and have no attention to detail despite being a solicitor.

Little errors but all the time. For example, my letters always had spelling mistakes and sarky respondents on a couple of occasions commented, id forget to add a document when filing pieces with court, trial bundles were cocked up (i numbered them wrong and sent out template to other side's solicitors - very embarrassing) and not knowing what to do with cases and then asking and getting told i should know. Never anything serious but I feel that I ran away from things as i asked for files to changed.

I have zero confidence in my abilities but need a job that pays well which of course means more skills and responsibilities.

Feeling pretty glum about the sad end to my short lived career!

There is nothing i particularly enjoy work wise and we have no spare capital for me to start my own business.

I need to work on my work esteem if you excuse the pun!

wobbleinprogress Wed 05-Nov-14 17:06:56

I volunteered with CAB and then got offered a paid job there. I do money advice but other colleague do benefits, health advice, employment etc. However the pay is pretty poor compared to law. Might be a good idea to get skills, but you are going to struggle with childcare - anyone who could help out a day a week?

deraila Wed 05-Nov-14 17:12:47

I have already looked at CAB but thanks for the suggestion. The length of the training was off putting in terms of childcare costs and I have don't have anyone who could look after our children.

Buddy80 Thu 06-Nov-14 10:43:11

I second Million's idea about contract management. I had a career in it formany years and it is a growth industry (depending on the area). Procurement have their own set of chartered exams and you could probably get an exemption. The atmosphere and expectations may be a good fit for you.

PM me if you want more details. I also volunteer for CAB (in policy work) and am setting my sights as re-training as a historian.

atticusclaw Thu 06-Nov-14 10:46:27

If you don't do detail then definitely steer clear of going back into law. I think you'd struggle to find a position anyway.

How about looking at roles which are still in the legal system such as working for the Courts Service? Your experience in litigation would mean that you are very familiar with the processes.

lavendersun Thu 06-Nov-14 10:52:05

What about local government? I was a partner in a big city firm in a former life, absolutely loved it but it was all consuming and not family friendly.

Now I live in the sticks and worked in local government until very recently in a completely unrelated field. Pay is ok (for local work) I didn't have any childcare costs apart from holidays.

They paid for some exams I did, I had a job share post, worked from home when I needed to, decent benefits, pension, etc., etc..

Have just given it up for various complicated reasons but I miss it and aim to return as soon as I can.

It was nice to be able to leave work at the office and not worry about it.

Buddy80 Thu 06-Nov-14 10:59:36

What about the Probation Service? They do volunteer programmes and I am sure your legal background would be of benefit.

deraila Thu 06-Nov-14 14:23:33

Oh no atticusclaw, why do you think Id struggle to practice as a sol again in the future? A lady who I worked with had left the profession for 5 years and returned on a lower salary just to get her going.

Thanks buddy, I will Pm you in detail when I have a few more minutes.

Really regret my years as a solicitor and that I wasted so much money in the process. I dont think I have the confidence/ability to do a professional job again but they are the ones that pay better. sad

deraila Thu 06-Nov-14 14:40:08

oh lavender, how did you get on with your warranty?

lavendersun Thu 06-Nov-14 22:05:58

Warranty issue paid in full, within 10 minutes of sending a verbose e-mail to the MD of the Volvo UK. Tainted my experience though and I will never use our dealer again (who didn't mention it at all when I collected my car, just gave me my keys!).

Re "I dont think I have the confidence/ability to do a professional job again", me neither tbh but for me it has been more than ten years.

I am no longer the person I was and can barely remember what I did last week most of the time. I definitely don't have the drive I used to have. I have forgotten most of what I studied and wouldn't go back even if I could. I don't even miss the money any more.

Hasn't been so long for you OP you will be fine after a few months.

atticusclaw Fri 07-Nov-14 09:27:10

I just think the legal profession is so competitive now and moves so quickly that a step out like this is going to put you in a really difficult position. You'd have to explain your absence and you were only really 2 years qualified (due to your maternity absence) when you stopped practising.

A firm who is recruiting is going to be faced with dozens of CVs for every position and when given a choice between someone who is doing well in a 2-3 year PQE job elsewhere and wants to move on because they are ambitious and would like quick progression to a role with more responsibility and the chance of associateship or someone who has left the profession for a lengthy period of time and struggled previously, I'm afraid you don't stand much chance.

If you're looking for an NQ role people will want to know why and you'll be up against the firm's own trainees and hundreds of other well qualified and enthusiastic candidates.

I'd also think very carefully anyway. On the one hand you seem to say you'd like to go back into law and on the other you say it wasn't for you and you don't want to work in ANY legal environment. You don't seem to know and for a job which is as demanding as this you have to want to do it or it will kill you.

3-4 years is a real turning point in most fields. It's the stage at which you start taking far more responsibility and have less supervision and hand holding. You simply can't just pass files back to others. If you struggled with detail etc when you were an NQ then you'll very quickly be exposed as a more senior lawyer and you'll run the risk of being performance managed out.

deraila Fri 07-Nov-14 09:55:45

You're probably correct Atticus. I think i'd like to a paralegal or assistant to a group of more senior fee earners in a small city or town practice within a 10 mile commute but even then I think I would escape doing bits of advocacy and it would definitely involve the bitty stuff. Then it would be a case of accepting a salary where I might have a couple of hundred shortfall between that and childcare.

Its just such a waste really and Im worried about where I do fit in career wise because I need a permanent plan quite soon before Ive been out of the world of work for too long - I mean its almost 8 months since my last (quite junior) role.

Royally stuck because when It comes to being accurate and effective, I flounder!

atticusclaw Fri 07-Nov-14 10:01:51

I think you'll find there's a big salary gap though.

Paralegals at my DH's firm earn £15k. I don't have a paralegal at the moment but if I did it would be as a cost effective option and I would expect them to be very efficient. At my last firm we had people offering to paralegal for free.

I'd look at something completely different to working at a law firm.

deraila Fri 07-Nov-14 10:04:38

Thanks, any ideas...

atticusclaw Fri 07-Nov-14 10:19:30

Could you lecture?

BikeRunSki Fri 07-Nov-14 10:52:50

I second looking at local government / public sector. I did 10 years in private civil/environmental engineering practice. Hated it. Hated the work work work/life bslance, the fee earning, the competitiveness, everything you've mentioned. Moved to a large Quango 10 years, have never looked back. Ethics and ethos totally different. V family friendly. I could see an ex Solicitor as a commercial lead in our contracts dept. I am a construction project manager, I know all about the construction stuff, but we have contracts people to make sure we it properly !

We also have a lot of happy ex-miserable private practice solicitors.

deraila Fri 07-Nov-14 12:51:22

Thanks Atticus and Bike. I keep swinging between "just one more try" at a law firm and then "absolutely no way but what now?" .

Bike - Oh god the fee earning ... a ridiculous target figure and no resources - printer on different floor, no dictation services, self typing all documents and letters!! Not an excuse for my scruffiness but def a contributing factor.

Thanks everyone, think I will send mr deraila out on sun morning for a few hours so I can update my CV and look at a few council websites.

Buddy80 Sun 09-Nov-14 07:53:39

deraila it does sound as if your mind is made up. I used to do fee earning and are you sure you want to go back to that?

Please don't underestimate the skills you have gained from your career in law, but following Atticus' comments, don't underestimate the expectations from law nowadays. Unless you really want to work in law, why? smile

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