Advice

‘Can I spend the next year unemployed now I’ve secured a training contract?’

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One future trainee worries the gap on her CV could be ‘detrimental career-wise’

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one training contract holder questions whether spending the next year unemployed will harm her career.

“I’m starting my training contract in 2023 and I’m wondering if it might be looked down on by my firm / other firms in the future if I spend the time from now until the LPC / TC unemployed. I recently quit my old job and I was thinking of traveling for a bit and enjoying the free time I’ll have before the real work begins, but I’m not sure if having that gap on my CV might be detrimental career-wise. An option I was also considering is doing the New York bar between now and then. Would that perhaps be seen as ‘bridging’ the gap in an employer’s eyes?”

If you have a career conundrum, email us at team@legalcheek.com.

40 Comments

Veteran

Take the time off, no one cares

(239)(4)

Get a life

Loool there is some loser hater spam disliking the comments😂 I just refreshed the page and saw dislikes across all comments

(16)(7)

Get a life yourself

Also quite sad to be refreshing the page and counting likes?

(17)(30)

JS

They probably refreshed the page to see additional comments that have been updated and noticed all the dislikes.

I do it too, I refresh on RoF and other articles to see updates in the comments lol, it’s not uncommon

(20)(4)

Harry Jenkinson

It’s a good query, the mere fact that you’re asking shows a good mentality! But 100% go travelling. I work at a small boutique firm where our size means I can have open, frank discussions with some of the top partners in their fields and they will all say: travel travel travel, while you still can. Go and see the world safe in the knowledge they you’ve got that TC and you’re on the right track. Noone can begrudge your that and if they do then you don’t want to be working for them anyway!

Emily

if you can afford to have no job for the year, maybe look at volunteering on an ad hoc basis for something that aligns to your beliefs and what area you’re going into. That way your CV will still look good and you’ll still be commitment free for the most part and can travel. Every country and city needs volunteers.

(33)(49)

Truth Serum

No offence but this sounds like the response of a middle class white girl who ‘volunteers’ in Africa one summer to “find herself” and posts photos of herself next to tiny African kids in the name of the white saviour complex and comes back to her 5 bedroom detached house in Buckinghamshire feeling so pleased with herself.

(184)(9)

@ Emily

Loool it’s giving crushed grey velvet interior

(44)(3)

Well

Before immediately chundering everywhere!

(26)(0)

AFRICAN

Hahahahhahahha the description, this could be true, lol

(4)(0)

Is me

Facts!

(2)(0)

Anonnn

Don’t.

Volunteers lack the legal rights employees have and are very easily exploited.

If your manager bullies you or you experience creepy behaviour, you are at the mercy of whoever the charity wants to protect. You won’t be able to present your evidence to an independent court or tribunal.

Go traveling instead. Do your PADI diving course, learn photography skills, pick up a new language, learn to run 10km, make new friends and do all the amazing things you can’t do in an office.

(46)(5)

Roger That

I can save anyone that wants to learn how to run 10km some time. Basically, what you do is, start running and continue to run until you have run 10km. Then stop running.

(27)(0)

Anon

It shouldn’t affect your training contract – as long as that’s all signed and done it’s an agreed contract.

But you will need to explain it when you look for NQ/ post TC roles as with any gaps in your CV.

Saying I took a year out to travel and experience life is not an invalid statement – what you might want to do is just figure out how you can spend that to make it sound about experiences rather than I just didn’t want to work. Also don’t make it sound like you took the time to pursue a dream that failed so they wonder why you are doing law!

(4)(38)

You’re overdoing it

It’s not that deep lol.

(46)(2)

Anon

Literally no one gives a damn what you do in your time off. You’ll realise that on your first day of your TC.

(14)(1)

OldAssociate

Honestly, you will spend most of your adult life working, take the breaks when you still can.

Nobody looks back at the age of 40+ and thinks wow I wish I had 15 years PQE instead of the 12PQE I currently have because I took that one year off to go travelling and the other year off to raise my kids etc.

(92)(2)

Don’t get stuck on the conveyor belt!!!

This is honestly so true.

One of my biggest regrets is not taking a year abroad that was offered at my uni and not taking a break after graduating because I wanted to start the TC asap at the age of 22/23.

Looking back, it really didn’t matter whether I’d started the TC at 22 or 26 or 28.

I wanted to rack up my PQE band before I hit the age of 30 but in the bigger picture it meant that I’d missed out on a lot of life and memories.

(64)(1)

US trainee

Quite a few US firms take on trainees who are mature candidates or in their late 20s and not straight out of uni and there’s a few in my cohort as well. By observing them they seem to have a really good handle of the work and seem much more comfortable and at ease in doing tasks than I am.

I was also in a rush to start my TC ASAP but there’s no shame in being a late starter and you actually end up better off in many ways

(41)(0)

H

I wish I’d had the opportunity to take some time off before the TC, grab it with both hands!!

When you’re a Uni student looking to get a TC, your entire focus becomes trying to secure it ASAP before you graduate or straight out of uni. And then you do the GDL, and then LPC and then straight into TC.

The thing with law is it’s so easy to become besotted with the next thing in your to do list to get to your career that you forget to stop and smell the roses.

(38)(2)

Don’t sweat it

Gaps in your CV aren’t a big deal whatsoever if you’re a couple years out of uni or have something lined up.

It’s only really questioned if you have large gaps due to taking a hiatus or having a few years off to have children and raise a family etc but even then it is very justifiable

(22)(3)

Associate

Non issue. Loads of people myself included went travelling and its never been an issue with seniors or in future job screening. Have fun!

(18)(3)

Actual NQ

If you’ve already secured a training contract, absolutely no-one at the firm will give a damn if you spend two years working at Sainsbury’s or if you spend that time in Antarctica. All the partners care about is that the juniors are grinding out enough fees to pay for their summerhouses in the south of France. Live your life.

(70)(3)

Brum Girl

Life is short – enjoy yourself now! You’ll have a long career slaving over docs!

(32)(3)

Pondering

I’m in the same boat however I’m not sure what to do with the year.

I feel having an entirely free year with the security of a career waiting for me is something that is not very common to most people (excluding lawyers).

I wonder whether I should really do something productive such as start a charity or business?

(4)(17)

OAP

Nope.

Honestly take the time off and enjoy it.

Do something fun.

(29)(1)

Sultan of Swing

If you are working in the City, you will not have time to run either once you start. Also your employment contract stops you from having other business interests.

If I could go back and have a year I would have learned to swing trade. Now the only swing trading I do is with my wife.

(16)(1)

Cynical Bystander

The British middle classes have been doing this for centuries and no one has batted an eyelid. It’s called “going travelling on [my] gap yah”.

(26)(2)

A Nostalgic Man

I made the mistake of paralegalling for the year leading up to my training contract instead of taking some time off. I thought it would set me up to do well during my TC. Eventhough it probably helped alot, I can’t help but think that I should’ve taken that time off. I’ve been working ever since and the thought of a gap year sounds *chef’s kiss*.

Work will never run out. Enjoy your best years!

(43)(1)

Alexa play T.I ft Rihanna - Live Your Life

Yep I also regretted my year of paralegalling before the TC.

Wish I’d spent it travelling or doing something completely unrelated to law.

Everything you need to learn you will learn during the TC and the paralegal role didn’t add a great deal of value to be quite frank.

(30)(1)

Name

Take a gap year if you can afford it. Travel if safe to do so (given the current global situation). Do some volunteering. Read some books for fun. You won’t have this opportunity again until you retire.

(18)(1)

Same situation

I was in the same position a few years back, I travelled and sat the new york bar! No one have once questioned it 🙂

(6)(0)

Kirkland NQ

My advice? Unless you’re training at the ‘land, rent a lambo, a Chelsea town house with a golden toilet and an actor to be a model girlfriend for a day and see what you’re missing out on.

(5)(15)

John P

Yes, next question.

(2)(0)

Anon

‘Kin hell mate, yes.

You are going to have a horrible few years chained to a desk, fondly remembering the days you were galavanting, skipping round fields of wheat with a smile on your face, care free.

This is your last year of freedom. Enjoy it. Relax. Go out. Drink. Romance. Enjoy life before the worry and tedium of work consume you.

(11)(0)

Anonymous

> take the year off
> eat junk food
> get high
> become a hipper
> join a commune
> find a hippee gf/bf
> never return to the legal profession
> live and love happily ever after

(15)(0)

It's not all or nothing

Why not spend 6 months travelling, two or three months temping as a paralegal (so you have something to show for the year on your CV and learn some valuable skills to set you up for the training contract) and the rest of the time catching up with family/friends etc in the UK while you have a life…

(2)(4)

Current Trainee

I’ve done this and am now considering a gap year before returning as an NQ.

(5)(0)

Got the t shirt

Wow, yes go travel/volunteer. 100% yes. I signed my TC 18m in advance and spent 17 of those months travelling, partying, exploring etc. It is definitely the most interesting part of my life and has featured heavily in all interview discussions – in a massively positive way.

(2)(0)

Roger This

Roger, it’s nowhere near as simple as that. There’s lots of different techniques involved.

For example, you could run 1km away and then back, ten times. Or you could run 6.21 miles instead. The possibilities are endless.

(2)(0)

Comments are closed.

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