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Career lessons

Planning your next career move: what do you want to achieve?

The legal industry has a reputation for being highly competitive when it comes to securing a coveted training contract. However, for many lawyers, the real competition begins post qualification in the race to progress to senior associate and potentially make partner. With the recent pandemic turning the legal industry on its head and sector winners and losers emerging overnight, career prospects have also become ‘make or break’ for many.

However, while uncertain times are unsettling, they can also provide a unique opportunity to rise to the challenge and showcase the reasons why you’re a valuable asset to your firm. With everyone from trainee to senior partner having to react and adapt as we emerge from the pandemic, demonstrating an agile mindset and the key skills you bring to your firm (or a potential firm) is more important than ever to make sure you stand out.

 

Build relationships

Your technical skillset and legal knowledge may be similar to that of your peers. However, your ability to build strong relationships with clients and colleagues as you climb the ranks is where you have an opportunity to shine. Even if you have exemplary knowledge of a certain area of law, if you can’t earn the trust and respect of others and build rapport, your career prospects will suffer. The adage ‘people buy people’ is as true for professional services as any other sector.

Research by legal software company Wolters Kluwers in 2020 found that ‘meeting changing client/leadership expectations’ was one of the biggest challenges international lawyers predicted they would face post-pandemic. In times of a challenging economic climate, this is never truer as you rely on the strength of your relationships with clients and colleagues to manage expectations and navigate unchartered waters. With this in mind, developing your softer skills is very important in achieving your career ambitions.

 

Find your USP

Another way to break from the ranks and progress your career is to think about what you can offer that is different from others. In marketing, this is called your ‘Unique Selling Point’ or USP. It might sound corny but identifying and exploiting it is how many household names have won out above their competitors. Do you speak other languages? Do you have a voluntary role outside of work, such as trustee of a local charity or chair of a local business group, that could bring kudos to your firm? What skills have you invested in? Have you undertaken any additional professional qualifications? The key is to find something that you have a genuine passion for and to harness this to your advantage – and of course that of your employer!

 

Take an international outlook

One way that lawyers who are interested in working internationally have expanded their horizons is to cross qualify so they can practice in other jurisdictions. This enables them to fulfil their career ambitions and benefit their clients and firm by offering a higher level of service and better ROI. The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS), which is the SRA recognised qualification for lawyers seeking to cross qualify and practice law in England and Wales, has been specially designed to allow legal professionals to study and work at the same time.

In many cases, lawyers qualify in under a year, which means those already working can still enhance their career prospects and take advantage of the increased demand for cross-qualified lawyers. One further point to note is that the QLTS is changing in October 2021, so many savvy lawyers are getting ahead and enrolling now.

 

Turn to technology

If technology is your thing then there has never been a better time to build your expertise and position yourself as the ‘go-to’ person in the firm. Despite recognising its importance and potential, pre-pandemic, many firms hadn’t seized the opportunity provided by new technologies. However, having had no choice but to embrace tech to keep operations going when lockdown first hit, this sentiment has rapidly changed, and for the better.

Homeworking technologies have been embraced, and this shift in attitude has also opened the door to other emerging technologies. From live chat to AI through to Cryptocurrency – there are many areas of technology where an associate with a keen interest and knowledge in a particular topic could easily become the expert in their firm and play an important part in its future, as recently noted by our own Chris Jorgenson.

For more information about the QLTS prep course and to speak with one of the team, get in touch today: https://barbriqlts.com/contact/

 

Preparing for the QLTS exam

Preparing for the QLTS exam – 5 things you need to know

The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) is the qualification required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for international lawyers seeking to cross-qualify and practice law in England and Wales. In fact, 15% of all admissions to the Roll of Solicitors in England and Wales are through the QLTS and with the UK legal services industry worth £30bn, it’s easy to see why so many people are keen to sit the exams. But preparation is key.

The QLTS exam itself comprises of two parts, the QLTS MCT, which is a multiple-choice test, followed by the QLTS OSCE – Objective Structured Clinical Examination. The good news is that the QLTS has been designed to allow legal professionals to work and study at the same time and in most cases qualify in under a year! Which means those already working can still enhance their career prospects and take advantage of the increased demand for cross-qualified lawyers.

To help those thinking about undertaking the QLTS exam here are ‘Five things you need to know’…

1. Don’t miss the boat

Don’t miss the opportunity to undertake the QLTS in the first place! Did you know that from September 2021 the qualification route for solicitors in England and Wales is changing? This means lawyers wishing to practice internationally from other jurisdictions will have to sit the new SQE To take the exam component of the QLTS in January 2021 and undertake the MCT portion first as is required, you need to enrol with a recognised provider as soon as possible!

 

2. Choose wisely 

Make sure you choose a reputable, established provider to undertake your QLTS with so that you have the best possible chance of passing. At BARBRI, we have been in the legal training business for over 50 years and have helped more than 1.3 million people pass the U.S. bar exam and become attorneys around the world. We’ve been running the QLTS since 2018 and have helped over 700 people pass the exams through access to the best teaching and learning support and technology platforms.

 

3. Establish good habits

It’s not always easy combining work and study, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve studied. Many of our most successful students find that setting aside regular time before work, at lunchtimes or in the evenings, or at weekends, and sticking to the routine helps them to stay focused and fit in their studies around the rest of their work and life commitments without it becoming overwhelming. Find what works for you and stick to the plan to avoid cramming!

 

4. Take the help on offer

As part of the BARBRI offer, all students undertaking the QLTS have access to continued one-to-one mentoring and support. Make sure you use this to both help with content for the QLTS exam and to organise your study. We even offer our students an online PSP or Personal Study Plan, which organises the material and expedites the learning process, increases retention and heightens comprehension.

 

5. Draw on your experience

Drawing on the experience you’ve had in your career to date can really help to bring your QLTS studies to life. Many of our students find that despite having to fit their studies around a busy working life, the fact they can relate much of what they are focussing on back to real situations they’ve encountered really helps to consolidate their learning. Don’t underestimate what you’re capable of!

 

For more information about our QLTS prep course, please get in touch today: https://barbriqlts.com/contact/