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Career Clinic: The best of 2011

Author: Legal Week |

12 Dec 2011 | 15:05

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A look back at some of the best Career Clinic dilemmas from 2011 - a year which saw heated debate over office bullying, working in an all-female team, turning down a magic circle job and secret pregnancies.

Get involved in 2012 by emailing your questions in confidence to community@legalweek.com.

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The financial centre of City of London with Swiss Re Building and London busJANUARY

London or the Home Counties for my training contract? - "I have never met anyone who is a good lawyer who would even consider legal recruitment. There is nothing wrong with legal recruitment but if you are thinking about it, you are not cut out to be a lawyer, plain and simple..."

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FEBRUARY

Quitting the law at 1PQE at for a business role: a bad idea? - "I think the SRA should introduce a new rule whereby if you leave law within three years of qualification your status as a lawyer is terminated and you have to retrain. You have been given a golden opportunity to participate in the greatest profession that there is and you don't even want it..."

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examsMARCH

Do top law firms pass over applicants with poor A-level results? - "Some law firms HRs are notoriously lax and that's just not limited to trainee recruitment. I once did a gap year in the HR department of a silver circle firm. The guy responsible for the partner recruitment was the surf instructor of the HR director..."

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APRIL

Are ILEX diplomas taken seriously as a way in to the legal profession? - "If you are serious about a career in law then I would recommend qualifying as a legal executive lawyer. I did just that by way of career change in my early 30s. I can say that I have a very satisfying career as a lawyer - my case load is in no way different from that of my solicitor colleagues..."

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interviewnewMAY

What should I avoid when changing careers into law? - "It never surprises me how lawyers will moan about the daily grind to other lawyers but would never dream of changing careers. Yet those same people will often walk into family or social gatherings and happily milk the respect and status afforded to them by others who consider them successful..."

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JUNE

Confidence shot after too long in the same place: how do I kickstart my career? - "Transactional positions are for boring individuals with no personality who think that high intelligence means cutting and pasting from precedents. They are the equivalent of dentists - ie not good enough to be a doctor..."


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tell offJULY

Bullied: do I stay or do I go? - "There's the client who one minute thinks you are great and then hangs you out to dry and makes a claim or complaint or both. Then you have the colleague who appears to be a friend but will shaft you at the first opportunity if he gets ahead as a result. Then the partner or manager who does his best to make your life miserable and for whom you can do nothing right..." 

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AUGUST

What can I do to line up a job at a bigger and better firm? - "Firms show no loyalty when awarding NQ places and even if they did, trainees owe no debt of honour to their firms. It is a mutual agreement for a two year term. After that, there are no commitments, moral or legal, either way..."

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panama-beachSEPTEMBER

Will taking a year out at 2PQE be career suicide? - "As a magic circle lawyer you may be a bit dull and boring, but you are certainly in the top 0.0000000001% of the world's population in terms of educational, intellectual and economic advantage. It therefore behoves you to jolly well find something you enjoy to do with your life and get paid for it..."

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OCTOBER

Should I turn down a magic circle job to pursue my tech law ambitions? - "Do something you are really interested in (and have some useful experience of) or follow the rest of the magic circle sheep to the slaughter. Your question implies that the only thing holding you back is the assumption that being at a MC firm must automatically trump any other option. That is a myth!"

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pregnant-woman-at-workNOVEMBER

Is my boss entitled to ask me to keep my pregnancy a secret? - "I've experienced this from the other end as client recently and I was annoyed that I wasn't told sooner. What made it worse was that I wasn't even told by the associate herself, the partner broke the news to me like it was a message that needed to be carefully managed..."

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DECEMBER

When's the best time to tell my firm I'm leaving? - "Do not tell anyone any sooner than is absolutely necessary. We are in for a rough ride in the Legal Services sector, methinks. What is to stop the firm who has offered you a training contract from deferring, or worse still, not delivering?"

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Thanks to all this year's contributors and commenters. Career Clinic is only as good as the questions we receive, so email your career conundrums in confidence to community@legalweek.com.

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