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How to prepare for becoming a Newly Qualified (NQ) Solicitor

Where have you qualified?

I have qualified into the Business Risks and Regulation Team, specialising primarily in Criminal and Health and Safety cases.

How do you feel about qualifying?

It's a great feeling to finally have qualified after putting in all the hard work; it really feels that all the studying and late nights have been worth it!

That said, nothing quite prepares you for actually qualifying, or at least I don't think so. It's been nearly a week, and I still can't quite believe it.

How have you prepared for qualification?

Broadly, I have tried to improve on the skills that the training contract equips you with, and have been trying to develop my commercial awareness and networking abilities, which are useful skills to bring in work. Whilst you aren’t expected to bring in work as an NQ, it is good to try, and it's far better to get the mistakes and awkward moments out of the way now, than in three years' time when it matters!

As an NQ, there are also greater expectations on you to deliver work to a higher standard, and more efficiently. Unfortunately, confidence and excellent legal knowledge doesn’t develop by osmosis at 12 a.m. of the date of qualification, so expect a great deal of hard work to try and get to grips with more complex tasks and tighter timescales. One important thing to realise is that mistakes do happen even when you qualify, and so long as you have developed good habits in admitting to and dealing with them when they happen, this will stand you in good stead for the future.

Finally, I have prepared by both improving my knowledge of my specialist areas, and by reconnecting to the reason I originally decided to work in criminal law in the first place. Going back through university notes and re-reading old textbooks not only helps improve your knowledge, which is an invaluable exercise when you first qualify, but can also help you rediscover why you wanted to practice law in the first place!