Trainee blog: Insights into the NQ Process at Michelmores

After starting your training contract, the next obvious milestone in a legal career is qualification as a solicitor. If you impress during your training contract and all goes smoothly, you will be offered a job as a newly qualified solicitor (NQ) within the firm.

Michelmores views trainees as a long-term investment; they see you as the future partners of the firm, so Alex Watson, the training principal, and Helen Wiggs, the HR contact for trainees, will work with you to try and secure an NQ position that is right for you.

This year, Michelmores has a 100% retention rate, with trainees set to qualify into our Agriculture, Banking, Restructuring and Insolvency, Commercial Disputes, Employment and Transactional Real Estate teams. Over the last four years, the firm has averaged 98% retention, with trainees qualifying into most teams.

Step 1 - Discussions

Once you have got a rough idea about teams you may want to qualify into, it is more than likely that you will have informal conversations with team leaders about whether they will be taking an NQ on and if they would like you to apply. During each of your seats, you will have a mid and end of seat review, where you can reflect on your performance and have ample opportunity to discuss career prospects. 

Having these informal discussions is the most useful part of the application process, as you find out at an early stage about the general opportunities for qualification.

Step 2 – The Job List

Shortly after entering your final seat, the NQ job listing will be sent out. This lists all of the jobs that the trainee cohort will be able to apply for.

There shouldn't be many surprises at this point, but if a position has come up that you didn't expect, and you are interested in, then you are able to speak with the team leader and training principal about applying.

You may be able to apply for more than one job but will need to speak to the training principal about why you are doing so.

Step 3 – Your Application

Once the list has been sent out, you will have a couple of weeks to prepare and submit an application. The NQ application is fairly straightforward at Michelmores; you only need to submit a CV and short covering email.

The NQ CV itself is very unique, and unlikely any other CV you'll prepare in your entire career. It will largely be based on your experiences across each seat, focusing on the seat in which you are qualifying into. The MiVoice team, which supports trainees at the firm, runs a helpful session on preparing your CV.

In some circumstances, you may be asked to interview for the position you have applied for if, for example, multiple trainees are applying for a single position, or you're applying for a position you've not completed a seat in. This will all depend on the individual teams and their requirements.

Step 4 – Offer and Acceptance

Once the firm accepts your application, they'll contact you with a formal offer for the position. If you choose to accept it, then the internal process is complete.

Step 5 – Admission

The final step in the NQ journey is to apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for admission to the role of solicitors and to obtain your practising certificate, which you will do shortly before the end of your training contract.

If you have any further questions about a training contract with Michelmores, the NQ process or otherwise, please get in touch.