Choose your articles & disciplines of law

neon-arrow

The importance of choosing your articles and disciplines of law wisely right from the start.

What is your advice for junior attorneys starting out?

Clients are looking for top tier candidates with specialised experience and the choices you make early on in your legal career will have a real impact on your decisions, career opportunities as well as your pay check down the line.

Some legal candidates are lucky enough to start becoming specialists in their chosen area of law the day they commence their articles of clerkship. Others aren't and there is a general lack of information available in the market to help junior candidates make an informed decision so make sure you do your research.

To achieve your career goals, candidates need to be more selective and informed from the very minute they sign on to do articles. There is no reason to work in a general litigation practice or an employment law firm if in the future you want to specialise as a project finance attorney or alternatively spend three years attending to deceased estates if competition or intellectual property is your passion.

Can recruitment consultancies help all legal candidates?

It's important to note that most recruitment consultancies are not in a position to help place junior legal candidates as most of their clients are looking for candidates with 1-3 years post qualification experience (PQE).

However, if you would like to discuss your career aspirations, please contact a legal recruitment consultant at Robert Walters.

How important is it to deicide your specialism early on?

Every day we talk to general practitioners who are looking for an associate position specialising in areas such as antitrust and competition, banking and finance, corporate, M&A and securities, employment and labour, intellectual property, real estate and property, tax etc.

But because they didn't choose their specialism early on in their legal career and haven't gained the experience that clients require, it's highly unlikely we can place them. If they had picked a specialism early on in their career it would be a different story.

How easy is it to branch from one part of law to another?

It's really challenging for a legal candidate who specialises in a particular area of law to branch from one part of the law i.e. banking and finance to another i.e. employment law. To achieve your career goals, candidates need to be more selective and informed from the very minute they sign on to do articles.

There is no reason to work in a general litigation practice or an employment law firm if in the future you want to specialise as a project finance attorney or alternatively spend three years attending to deceased estates if competition or intellectual property is your passion.

How can I make the right decision early on in my career?

Below are some simple steps to follow to help you make the right decisions early on in your career in law:

  • Map out your career. Take charge of your legal career from the very start and understand what you are aiming for and where you want to be 10 years from now.
  • If you are interested in a certain area of law such as competition law and your university offers this subject as an elective, make sure you sign up for it.
  • If you are applying for articles at particular law firms, make sure you find out what services they offer from their website and thoroughly understand what each department does.
  • When choosing a firm, read up and understand what you will be getting into before it is too late to make the transition which often is quite challenging.
  • When applying for articles do not settle for any job offer. Find a firm that does the work that you would like to gain experience in.
  • When you write your application letter, make sure you express your interest in a certain area of law instead of making a generic application which will more than likely be ignored due to a lack of vision.
  • Know your stuff! Research different law firms and understand what they do holistically when applying. Read up and understand what you will be getting into before it is too late to make the transition which often is quite challenging! Take charge of your legal career from the very start and understand what you are aiming for and where you want to be 10 years from now!

Interested in the latest legal jobs? Search all the opportunities currently available.

Or if you have a friend looking for a new job, why not be rewarded for recommending Robert Walters? Learn more about our excellent referral scheme and refer your friend today.

For more career advice please contact:

Nic Sephton-Poultney, Country Manager (South Africa)
nic.sephton-poultney@robertwalters.com
+27 (0) 11 881 2414

red-ceiling

Career advice

Read more »