Friday, 22 June 2012

Are You a Trainee Wondering if You Really Want to Qualify?

Are You a Trainee Wondering if You Really Want to Qualify?

So qualification season is drawing near and you’re faced with the question of whether to apply for an NQ position within your own firm. The atmosphere is charged as the trainees vie for various much coveted job offers and people around you are probably saying things like,

Of course you should apply, why would you put in all that work over two years to waste it by walking away?”

You’re far more likely to get a job working with a firm that knows you than one that doesn’t

The law pays such good money, people would kill to be in your position, where else are you going to find work that pays you so well?

Understandably, these sorts of comments are enough to make most wavering trainees stick it out in the law for at least a few years post-qualification; and why not? After all, the law is something you know and that you’re probably pretty good at. Even if you don’t like it, it doesn’t hurt to cash in on the NQ salary for a while and potentially buy yourself some more time, credibility and possible options for the future. On top of that who wants to look flakey/indecisive, disappoint the parents, have to significantly modify your lifestyle, or worse yet, risk leaving and one day have to come back?  There may even be a part of you that wants to prove to yourself that you can get a job with your firm, even if you decide to turn it down. After all, lawyers may be conservative but we’re still competitive creatures by nature.

Sadly, you wouldn’t be the first person to believe that you should stay in the law and you certainly won’t be the last; it’s a path well trodden in a profession that’s rife with conservatism and adverse to risk.

The truth is, it’s all too easy (and common) to rationalize that a year or two is tolerable; at the very least it saves you from making any big decisions now and won’t harm your professional reputation. The question is, how do you avoid 1-2 years turning into 3-4 years, or worse, the rest of your life? What if it was actually possible to take steps NOW to allow you to start earning money doing something what you actually WANT to do?

As I neared the end of my training contract I remember feeling in my heart of hearts that I didn’t want to qualify at the firm. In my intake, I was the sole maverick to venture into the world of legal recruiters and online job applications, hoping beyond hope that a different firm, change in culture, job abroad or bigger pay cheque would soothe my discontent. I figured that a move, even a sideways one would be better than staying where I was. It didn’t take long to learn that this was only a temporary measure for silencing the voice inside.

Whether it’s at the point of qualification or slightly later down the line, if you already know that you want to leave, then what? How do you go about the daunting task of:

·      Trying to identify what you want to do;

·      Take steps to earn a comparable salary to what you’ve been earning; and

·      Finding the best resources to allow you to do it.

The truth is that if you feel unsupported then it makes sense that you would play it safe. Who wouldn’t feel at least a little reluctant to jump a huge chasm without the reassurance of a pretty sturdy safety net? When I reached this crossroads in my life and looked around me for support, the only steps I could think to take were to speak to a careers advisor or attend entrepreneurial expos and small business fairs. I tried both and neither helped me to feel any more confident about what I wanted to do or the steps I would need to take to do it.

For me, the ultimate dream was a big one. I wanted to be able to make all the money I would ever need doing exactly what I loved. I wasn’t even entirely sure what that thing was yet, I just knew that I wanted to be fully self-supporting, independently revenue-generating and not have to rely on permission from someone else to take a day off. I also wanted the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, work when and as much as I wanted and all the while feel authentic in how I showed up in the world. No small ambition.

As things turned out, when I left the firm I trained at, I went to work at a small London office of a US firm for two years, before moving to L.A. to live and work in the international employment team of a US firm for a further two years. It was only when I had achieved my longstanding dream of practicing in the US that I realized that no amount of moving within the law would fill the void; and rock bottom swiftly followed. It was only then that I finally faced my fears and did what I needed to do to get out.

For me it took some serious soul-searching. The notion of being free from the confines of private practice was worth a fair bit on its own, but it was allure of earning as much money as I would ever need doing what I loved that was worth more than anything in the world to me. With my mind made up, I went out and hired a career transition coach.

So, what does a coach do exactly? Here in the UK, coaching is currently one of the lesser known, but fastest growing and most effective modalities for “actualising potential”. Using a combination of insightful questioning, cognitive tools and processes and real world experience, a coach will help you to do what needs to be done to achieve your greatest ambitions. A coach will help you to:

·      Identify and understand your values and what’s important to you;
·      Formulate clear unambiguous goals;
·      Move past the blocks that have kept you stuck; and
·      Co-create a realistic action plan that will take you one step at a time toward the achievement of your goals.

Be prepared that it’s a minimum 3-6 month commitment, and whilst that can seem like a big investment of time and money, it’s worth every penny to know that when you’re ready, the right coach will have your back all the way to the other side. Some coaches even offer bespoke payment schedules to allow you to build up your confidence or get some momentum going in your new venture before you pay. It’s a win-win all round.

I won’t lie, at times I thought to myself, “I can do this by myself,” and on a couple of occasions I tried. I nearly set up my own business on two occasions (one was very nearly a real big money-making prospect), but those efforts ultimately fell by the wayside.  After a few years, I came to accept that deep down, I couldn’t and didn’t want to do it alone.

Now, at my core, I can finally say that I believe in what I do and I’m proud to talk about it; I’m a coach. I help people to live the lives that they want to live and to live them confidently and abundantly. Having benefitted so richly from the coaching process I decided to pay it forwards. Now I love what I do and I do what I love. Ask yourself how many people you know can honestly say that nowadays? Now ask yourself, how much do you want to be one of those people?

To learn more about coaching options and payment schedules that are available OR for a 30min Complimentary Coaching session please contact Anna Margolis at or on 07958 270 452. 

(Live testimonials available by request)

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