The law course has always been quite generic in nature. Notwithstanding the recent changes in the course, this is still very much the case. It is actually pretty difficult for it to be any other way as it necessarily needs to give a detailed overview of many branches of the law together with an ever-increasing list of electives. The same can be said for most law courses in Europe, despite different jurisdictional requirements.
From personal experience, the law course can be a gruelling experience, with various ups and downs. Either way and whatever happens, it is certainly a life-changing experience and it is highly unlikely that anyone graduating from law is not a different person by the end of it.
As specialised recruiters within the Legal field, Konnekt frequently meets with lawyers - both fresh graduates and more seasoned ones. Whilst it is clear that the fresh grads are very academically oriented - and rightly so - it is sometimes a little less clear what type of continuous training, if at all, more senior lawyers would have undertaken after completion of their studies.
Junior lawyers would very often find their first job in an area which they see themselves practising in. Given the vast myriad of opportunities in the legal field, this is certainly not an easy choice. Naturally, changing an area of practice is definitely possible if the right steps are taken.
Where the legal profession can sometimes be lacking however, is in terms of required continuous legal training. As things stand, retention of the warrant is not subject to lawyers attending specific ongoing training, such as conferences, talks, seminars etc. The same system is adopted across Europe, where there is no obligation imposed for attending a certain number of hours in training.
This point is of particular importance where we are approached by candidates who would like to switch their practice area and are looking for a job in a different company or law firm. Whilst the need for change is completely understandable, this needs to be backed up significantly by an active interest in the area one is seeking to switch to. Of course, a number of lawyers do keep themselves updated by attending different events and monitoring developments at a local and on an international level. In other cases, however, we do meet people who would like to change their specialisation without having the required academic knowledge or without having actively taken certain steps to ensure they are up to speed with the ever-changing legal requirements. It is not possible for lawyers to rely solely on the academic training they would have received throughout the law course. Of course, a lawyer with a few years of legal analytical experience would also find it easier to be become attuned to the demands and requirements within a different field which leads to our conviction that the obstacle would not take too long to be overcome.
Whilst the belief is strong that there should be a requirement for continuous and structured legal training to be undertaken in order for the warrant to be retained, it should also be something that individual lawyers actively seek out. The benefits of a holistic understanding of the main changes in other areas outside one’s practice areas certainly outweigh any negatives in the equation (mainly time restraints).
From a recruitment perspective, whilst experience in the area of the law the employer is seeking to recruit is definitely an asset, there are different experiences and areas of expertise which are more easily transferable to one another. More importantly, where one can show that notwithstanding practising in a particular area, a certain amount of training was undertaken.
It is also more possible to assist from a recruitment perspective, where one demonstrates a level of preparedness in the subject matter they are seeking to find a job within. The fact that it is not a requirement could even show more dedication towards the profession.
As one of the oldest professions in the world, steps should be taken to ensure the legal profession is enabling its members to participate in a knowledge sharing environment and to ensure certain standards are maintained. The ultimate advantage for individual lawyers is a more holistic approach towards their practice coupled with an enhanced possibility of changing areas of specialisation. Changes in requirements are not implemented overnight. In the meantime, we certainly encourage individual lawyers with a few years of experience seeking to change their line to actively participate and take initiative in attending events which would give them more insight into the area they seek to work within.
Legal & Finance Recruitment Specialist
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