job seeking

Unemployed New Lawyers – Would you pay $22,000 for a Job?

trust-me-i-m-a-lawyer


The problem

In Australia, law graduates are required to either complete a supervised workplace training program (generally with a law firm or an in-house legal department), or a practical legal training program offered by an accredited educational institution in order to become admitted to practise law, i.e. It’s the next major step after graduation to qualify as a lawyer.  Supervised workplace trainees are paid a graduate salary, whilst practical legal training trainees pay around $10,000.00 in course fees, though there are also hybrid arrangements. Once admitted, new lawyers, particularly those who completed a practical legal training program and therefore may not have accumulated significant experience with a potential employer, face the challenge of seeking supervised employment. A newly admitted lawyer must be supervised for two years as a condition of their restricted practising certificate.

It is well-known that there is an oversupply of law graduates and new lawyers in metropolitan Australia, significantly increasing the competition when it comes to supervised workplace training programs and subsequently, first-year positions. It has been estimated that Australia is producing 12,000 law graduates a year, however there are only 60,000 working lawyers in the country. Of course, this includes students studying double degrees and post graduate degrees etc. who may not necessarily have ambitions to pursue careers as lawyers; however the number still leaves me incredulous.

I experienced this competitive environment myself during practical legal training in 2013; the proportion of trainees that had secured legal roles was definitely outweighed by the proportion that hadn’t. It is indeed a catch 22. Most positions advertised sought a lawyer with 2-3 years post admission experience yet graduates couldn’t get their foot in the door to rack up the same. Even now at the current firm that I work at, I was told that there were over 300 applicants for 1 supervised workplace training position. First year lawyer positions are even more of a rarity. Clearly, it is a buyer’s market and the firms have all the bargaining power when it comes to having graduates and new lawyers jumping through hoops and being able to select those who are perceived as being the cream of the crop.

A controversial ‘solution’

With this in mind environment in mind, I was amused however not surprised when I came across this article about a new Adelaide based firm, Adlawgroup, proposing to charge newly admitted lawyers $22,000.00 for a two-year “employment and mentoring program“. (more…)

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Things to Consider When Changing Jobs or Careers

Sometimes a decision to change jobs or careers is really easy. For example, when you absolutely hate your current working environment or when you are going for your dream job. However, there are times when the pros and cons of the decision are much more subtle, or where there are different factors pulling you in opposite directions. For example, when you really enjoy your current role however a new job is offering you more career progression.  Or when you are giving up a well-paying job for a much lower paying job that is in your dream industry.

photoI have certainly grappled with this tough task over the previous month, or more accurately, over the previous year. I had qualified as a Lawyer back in February 2014 but had opted not to practise law in favour of working in the Risk & Compliance team of a large, well known national group of companies. I found that over the last year, the thought of practising law was always in the back of my mind, causing me to constantly doubt and second guess my career path.  An opportunity presented itself for me to work as a Lawyer in a mid-tier law firm and I had to very quickly decide whether I was willing to embrace the change.

I considered the following factors, however they are definitely not equally weighted. I downloaded a weighted pros and cons app so I could assign the appropriate ‘level of significance’ to these factors. Though the financial and lifestyle differences were quite large cons (it must be one of the best kept secrets that many Lawyers don’t actually make that much money!), the benefit of actually practising law (and thus avoiding future regrets and uncertainty) was too great and dwarfed all other setbacks, particularly at this early stage in my career. However, this list was still very helpful as it allowed me to conduct my due diligence in a methodical manner, so there would (hopefully) be no surprises as to what I what I was getting myself into. (more…)

Some Dos and Don’ts of Job Applications

I have been invited to sit on the selection panel to secure a replacement for my previous role. There has been an external recruitment freeze at my organisation for the past two years so only internal candidates were being considered. The position is focused around the management of certain compliance and operational initiatives across 3000 outlets nationally.  All up, seven people applied, from various professional backgrounds. I’m by no means a recruitment professional and I’m sure that the insights of such a person would be far more valuable than mine, as they deal with this everyday. However, these are my observations during the resume reading and shortlisting process. (more…)

Resume Tips (and a Template)

There is no such thing as a perfect resume template, because the way your resume looks depends on such personal factors. For example, if you are a graduate with minimal work experience, you will need to highlight your studies and extracurricular activities, whereas if you’re an executive you probably won’t even have an extracurricular section. At the earlier stages of your career, you will be conveying your responsibilities and as you progress, these will evolve to achievements. Appearance wise, a graphic designer’s resume should look markedly different to a lawyer’s resume. Personally, I change my font depending on whether I am applying to a conservative law firm or a more modern corporation.

These are a few tips which I think apply to resumes across the board.  I have also attached a template in Word to get you started if you’re creating a resume for the first time. (more…)

An Intensive Job Interview Preparation Guide

For the most part, with the exception of one nightmarish and cringe inducing interview last year of which I lacked preparation, I have a decent interview-to-offer conversion rate. So I stand by the adage that preparation is key. I devote at least 2 or 3 nights leading up to an interview for preparation, after all, a new position is an investment in your career and should not be approached without the due diligence you would undertake if it was, for example, a business you were purchasing.

Questions

The document below is my ‘Intensive Job Interview Preparation Guide‘, which assists me to methodically ensure that I have covered all bases that may be addressed at interview. I have this guide in a Word document, and type notes under each heading in a different colour as I go along, as if I were cramming for an exam. Once I’m done, I’ll print it out and revise it the night before the interview. (more…)