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5 tips to help you find a legal role when you have less than 2 PQE.

If you have been looking for a role as a lawyer, you will have noticed that most adverts seek applicants with more than 2 PQE.

This is because most firms that engage agencies have their own graduates which go through set training programs/ rotations.

In practice this means that most major law firms do not look externally for talent that has less experience than their own graduates. Opportunities do exist but you may need to seek them out.

Here are my best tips on securing a role when you have less than 2 PQE.

1. Apply to roles directly. In the most cases this will allow you to have the best chance of success. Unless there are special circumstances top tier, global and mid tier law firms do not like paying recruitment agents fees to secure candidates with less than 2 years’ experience. Special circumstances include candidates that have significant pre-admission experience which is akin to graduate experience, exceptional academics (ie University Medallists/ First Class Honours), market forces meaning a certain area is in demand or changes since graduate intakes were calculated (intakes are often confirmed 18 months ahead of time) and firms may have hired new Partners since grad numbers were confirmed or if you can demonstrate that you have more experience than a regular graduate (because you have not rotated and have worked as a non- rotating graduate) or it could be that a firm doesn’t have any graduates as they are a new entrant in the market.

2. Market yourself- Live by the mantra that just because there is no job advertised it doesn’t mean that there is not a job available. Network in the practice area you want to work in, ask friends if they know of anybody you can connect with, reach out to HR Managers and Partners directly, try and arrange informal coffee meetings, attend functions and industry events and make contacts with people.

3. Consider options at boutique firms or firms out side the CBD. The advantage, smaller law firms often do not take the large volumes of graduates that the bigger top tier and global firms do and typically they do not have a large graduate pool to recruit from. In my experience you will have a greater chance at success at a smaller firm than you would at a larger firm when you have less than 2 years experience.

4. Treat job hunting as a job. Finding a job can be a lot of work. Get a note book or use a spreadsheet (if you are that way inclined). Keep track of who you contacted and when, set reminders to follow up. Be diligent and be organised- it will show.

5. Consider expanding your experience with paralegal or document review work. If you dont have much legal experience, it is worth considering getting some paralegal experience. Some large firms have document review teams that can offer the experience of working on large matters and help you expand on the skills you have so next time a junior role comes up you will hopefully be the person who scores an interview and the job.

For more information on this or anything else, contact Kensington Parry on 0413 823 687.

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