Why 3-7 Years’ Post Qualified Experience (PQE) is a Sweet Spot for a Move

Published On: July 20, 2023

01603 516261   |    07960 743650   |    info@olsenrecruitment.com

01603 516261      07960 743650      info@olsenrecruitment.com

Between 3-7 years after qualifying, you’re in a prime position to take control of your career. At this stage, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to choose from, as law firms often hire lawyers with this level of experience.

Here are a few reasons why solicitors in the 3-7 year PQE range are in high demand:

  1. Lawyers in this PQE range can handle cases with minimal supervision.
  2. By three years’ PQE, if a lawyer is going to specialise, they typically have (e.g. a litigator might specialise in contentious probate; an employment lawyer might specialise in the education sector). Specialisation can lead to charging higher fees and attracting bigger cases. This is why specialist lawyers are often found in larger firms/in teams with seven or more lawyers.
  3. Hiring lawyers in this PQE range is profitable. In East Anglia, salaries may be below £70k, but billing/charge-out rates can be high.
  4. Law firms like hiring lawyers in this range because they are competent, affordable, profitable, and yet still have room to grow.

However, if you wait too long to make a move, you may be seen as a “niche candidate”. The factors mentioned earlier may no longer apply – e.g. you’re too expensive or you’re too specialised. Additionally, you might find yourself more experienced than the hiring supervising lawyer, which can hinder your professional progress.

If you’re considering a move, here are some tips for you:

  • Make sure your desired work quality and level of specialisation is offered. As we’ve said before, it becomes increasingly difficult to change your post-qualified experience. Look at things like client type and value of work.
  • Consider the level of supervision you’ll receive and whether it matches your preferences.
  • Evaluate the career structure offered by the law firm. Most firms have 2-4 levels before equity partnership; some have minimum PQE levels to hit, others are meritocratic.
  • Look into the firm’s hiring patterns. Seeing where they hire from and where their lawyers go to after leaving can give you insights into a law firm’s reputation amongst lawyers and potential opportunities.
  • Assess the overall fit of the firm, including its growth, partnership aspirations for growth, and management structure.
  • If you can, gather information about the firm’s partnership earnings, financial position, and any debts or personal guarantee obligations they may have. As we’ve said before size is not a reliable indicator of partnership earnings. Some smaller firms in East Anglia with fewer than 50 lawyers have partnership earnings which exceed what firms with over 500 lawyers offer.

If you want to explore your options without any pressure, feel free to contact us anytime.

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