Dear Amicus Agony,
I am a practice trainee who is looking to be called to the Bar later this year. While I am sure that I would not be practising as a litigator, I am undecided between the finance and corporate practices – would you have any guidance for me?
Dear Undecided Trainee,
Congratulations on the impending completion of your training contract!
Personally, I think the choice depends on your personal preference and you should already have some gut feel on this subject by now – particularly so if you have had rotations in the finance and corporate practices.
Corporate practice would probably provide you with more opportunities should you choose to work in-house eventually. Companies would typically want to hire corporate lawyers (rather than banking lawyers) due to the relevancy of their corporate practice experience.
On the other hand, for finance, it would be easier to build a practice/business in the long run because banks and financial institutions generally have the deal volume in terms of work sourcing.
Both practice areas have a lot to offer in terms of learning for a young lawyer. There is also no harm in switching practice areas after a year or two if you finally arrive at the conclusion that a particular practice group is not your cup of tea – the experience gained will be beneficial in helping you become a more well-rounded lawyer.
Dear Amicus Agony,
I am a junior associate who joined my firm on probationary pay with a promise to be adjusted upon confirmation. However, in light of the COVID-19 situation, the firm has implemented a firm-wide salary freeze and this is causing me significant distress.
I am no longer motivated and have recurring thoughts of resignation. Do you have any advice for me?
Dear Unhappy Associate,
I am sorry to hear about your situation. However, there is comfort to be drawn from the fact that you are still employed and do not appear to be facing a salary reduction. Bear in mind that a number of members of the legal profession are presently either unemployed (as a result of redundancy) or working on a reduced base salary.
The situation is not ideal but on the bright side you should still be learning on the matters which you are being tasked to work on. The knowledge and experience you are continuing to accumulate through these difficult months are extremely valuable and not something that can be bought with money. The accumulated experiences during the pandemic may eventually allow you to justify future salary increments or open doors to future opportunities.
If the salary freeze is causing you significant distress resulting in a lack of motivation to work hard, perhaps you could schedule a conversation with your supervising Partner to let him/her know about your concerns and the likelihood of a lifting of the salary freeze (either on a firm-wide or exceptional basis).
I would not recommend resigning without a job in this climate as it would take longer than usual to secure another role. Being employed would also ensure you are kept abreast on market developments and legal knowledge.