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VanJR

Accepting a Job in a Relatively New Area of Law

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Hi all,

I'm considering a job opportunity that would have me change solicitor roles to one which I have little to no experience in.  More specifically, the role is within the same general area of law that I currently practice/have experience in.  However, the new role is different as it involves more regulatory/compliance.  For context, I'm a mid-senior level call and I've been upfront about my lack of direct experience in the area of law.  That being the case, I've been offered the position but am hesitant to take it due to the fear of failure.  Also, for what it's worth, it seems like finding/hiring a specialist in the area is rare and the interview appeared to be more so if hiree could adapt and learn the new role. 

Anyone have valuable insight on this?

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I forget what book it's in - I think maybe Richard Branson said it in his bio - but never refuse a job you want because you feel unqualified. You'll learn on-the-go. Every job requires learning on-the-go. You'll never be fully qualified. If the rule was that you can't take a job unless you feel qualified to do it, most of us wouldn't have ever been able to take a job in law...

This is perhaps only somewhat related, but something interesting I read recently is the following: I don't know your gender, but I've heard this is a contributing factor to differentiation regarding promotion rates between males and females. Males are (generally) more likely believe they're sufficiently qualified for a new job (even when they're not), whereas females are (generally) more likely to believe they're not yet qualified enough to handle a new job (even though they're equally as qualified as a male that feels they are sufficiently qualified for the job). As a result of not feeling they're qualified, females are less likely to both apply for promotions and accept them. (As a caveat I recognize this is almost akin to victim-blaming, but I think it makes sense as a psychological reality caused by societal norms. And, of course, we're dealing in generalities here. I'd also suggest that this happens to males too; the uber-confident males are more likely to apply for promotions than their less confident counterparts, even when equally qualified. Perhaps this explains how so many dickheads end up in management positions...).

Long story short: if you want this job over your current job then yes, I think you 100% should take it! I'd suggest that your worst case scenario is probably going back to your previous area of practice in a 6-12 months, but now with some unique knowledge and experience. That's a pretty great "worst case scenario".

Edited by TheGazeboEffect
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7 hours ago, VanJR said:

Hi all,

I'm considering a job opportunity that would have me change solicitor roles ... I've been offered the position but am hesitant to take it due to the fear of failure.  ...  the interview appeared to be more so if hiree could adapt and learn the new role. 

Anyone have valuable insight on this?

You'll do fine.

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Just try your best and be nice to everyone.  I was very unqualified for my first law job and, for my first 2 months, it was quite obvious.  However, I tried my best and treated everyone with respect.  There were reasons to get rid of me because I was not nearly as qualified for the job as they would have liked.  However, they liked me and saw something in me and didn't give up.  Now, I know what I am doing and am a great addition to the team. 

If you go in with that attitude, I'm sure the same will be true for you.

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7 hours ago, UpAboveIt715 said:

Just try your best and be nice to everyone.  I was very unqualified for my first law job and, for my first 2 months, it was quite obvious.  However, I tried my best and treated everyone with respect.  There were reasons to get rid of me because I was not nearly as qualified for the job as they would have liked.  However, they liked me and saw something in me and didn't give up.  Now, I know what I am doing and am a great addition to the team. 

If you go in with that attitude, I'm sure the same will be true for you.

Good advice.  However, I'm not sure if this is wholly applicable to my situation as I feel like most of us are very unqualified for our first law jobs. Of course, I don't know the specifics that you are referring to but this new position is for an experienced mid-senior level solicitor.  Hence, I'm thinking that the expectations may be more than that of a newly minted lawyer.

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3 hours ago, VanJR said:

Good advice.  However, I'm not sure if this is wholly applicable to my situation as I feel like most of us are very unqualified for our first law jobs. Of course, I don't know the specifics that you are referring to but this new position is for an experienced mid-senior level solicitor.  Hence, I'm thinking that the expectations may be more than that of a newly minted lawyer.

How can the expectations be more than a newly minted lawyer when you have already told your possible employer that you have no direct experience in the area? I think you seem to be overthinking some of the situation because, to me, that seems contradictory to state that there are going to be advanced expectations even though you've been direct about your level of experience. If you're hired and then questioned on your capabilities they're the clueless one and not you because you've been honest about your limits.

It seems that you want the job, and I have no doubt you're qualified to do well, plus it's clear your possible employer thinks so as well or they wouldn't have offered you the position at all. If you want it go for it, and if you're comfortable where you are then don't, its as easy at that to me.

 

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Would this advice still apply to someone who's a new call? My fear is that I'll go into a new area of law, there'll be little to no mentorship or support, and then I'll start screwing up without even realizing it. :blink:

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On 5/18/2018 at 12:03 AM, VanJR said:

Hi all,

I'm considering a job opportunity that would have me change solicitor roles to one which I have little to no experience in.  More specifically, the role is within the same general area of law that I currently practice/have experience in.  However, the new role is different as it involves more regulatory/compliance.  For context, I'm a mid-senior level call and I've been upfront about my lack of direct experience in the area of law.  That being the case, I've been offered the position but am hesitant to take it due to the fear of failure.  Also, for what it's worth, it seems like finding/hiring a specialist in the area is rare and the interview appeared to be more so if hiree could adapt and learn the new role. 

Anyone have valuable insight on this?

I haven't been in your specific position, but I would say that if you want the job, take it. It's normal to feel nervous about making a big career change, but if it's what you want to do you'll figure it out and be happier for it in the end. 

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I made a similar switch about 2.5 years ago. It's intimidating/frustrating at first (I felt like an articling student again), but you'll learn the new area.

My employer was pretty up front that they could train me on what I needed to know, and were confident that I'd take the time to do self study. They just wanted a strong background in corporate/commercial law. If this employer is telling you the same things, I wouldn't worry about it too much.

The switch in my case was very rewarding. I've never say this to anyone at my old firm, but I feel like I've learned and developed so much more in this new job than I would have staying at the firm.

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