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The Oracle

Which department should I apply to qualify into?

updated on 14 May 2019

Dear Oracle

I am a trainee due to qualify this summer but haven’t been told whether I will be kept on. I have enjoyed seats in employment, personal injury (PI) and private client, but which of these areas has the best long-term prospects if I need to apply for NQ positions at other firms?

The Oracle replies

Each of the areas that you have experienced is pretty stable. People of course need jobs and there will also always be conflict in employment, so plenty of contentious and non-contentious work in employment law is guaranteed. Private client solicitors will always be in demand because there will always be wealthy people who need advice on what to do with their money. Meanwhile, people are not going to stop having accidents, so they will always need PI lawyers to help them file claims when the fault lies with another party. These practice areas are not so much at the whim of the economy (unlike M&A or capital markets), although it is worth remembering in relation to PI law that it has been greatly affected by the Jackson Reforms.

You still have over six months to go on your training contract, which means that you have time to really identify what it is that you most enjoy. It is sensible to be pragmatic about where to qualify, but you can't be entirely led by job options - you should focus on what you enjoy and what you are good at. We suggest talking to your supervisors and training principal for guidance, as they will know your abilities and personality best.

Think about the skill set required for each of the practice areas you mention and how closely you identify and match the skills required. For example, employment lawyers need strong interpersonal skills to advise employers and their employees. They also need to be empathic yet commercially attuned to balance risk and client needs accordingly. PI lawyers need a good mathematical and analytical mindset to be able to calculate appropriate compensation levels and to forecast future needs. In contrast, private client lawyers need excellent communication skills and a keen interest in and understanding of tax legislation. Consider what each practice area entails (do you enjoy the type of work? is the work largely advisory, transactional or litigious?) and how important each practice area is to the strategic growth of your firm or other firms that you are considering (ie, is the practice area deemed a 'core' or 'support' function to the firm's long-term growth?). Good luck!