Dear Chris,

I am a European lawyer registered with the SRA. I hold a Master’s in Litigation and Arbitration, have 3 years PQE in regulatory compliance and financial crime Investigations and speak four useful languages quite well. I currently work for a major bank in compliance and I miss the “hard law” dearly. Despite multiple applications no firm seems interested in my profile and I have been unsuccessful securing relevant interviews last semester. Besides passing the QLTS, how can I make my CV attractive for British firms? Should I be applying for an English LLM? I’d also note that I’d be willing to take a pay cut.

Chris Owen, director, Lawyers Select Limited

Chris Owen

Chris Owen

There is no reason why some law firms would not show interest in someone with your academic and practical experience.

However it is clear from your question that you are going about this in the wrong way. You need professional assistance from those who know the market, i.e. an experienced legal recruiter.

Making ‘multiple applications’ will not succeed if these are not targeted at the right law firms and right people within each firm.

A good recruiter has strong professional relationships within law firms which enable them to assess the strength of your application and who to place it in front of.

There is a caveat to this, which is because you have sent off so many applications this has already cut down on the list of firms a recruiter can approach as most will reject a second approach.

You most certainly do not need to undergo further study to obtain yet another degree, that would be an unnecessary waste of your time and money.

So here is the solution to your predicament. Do some research as to which legal recruitment companies operate in the geographical area you wish to work in. I have assumed London but the advice covers all areas.

Then dig deeper into each company’s website to find a recruiter who deals with placements in your fields of interest, fraud and compliance.

My advice is only to instruct one recruitment company otherwise things will get messy. They will focus on your cv structure wise, ask you for a comprehensive list of all firms that you have applied to in the past. Then they will draw up a fresh list of firms to target, which they will agree with you in advance of any approach.

Some recruiters send an anonymous summary in advance of a CV, to see whether that attracts interest and is often the best approach. It is certainly one I use.

There is another route for you which you may have not considered. Your background experience and linguistic skills would be attractive to the regulators and agencies dealing with fraud and compliance. The websites for those will show if they have vacancies. As you say you have missed ‘hard law’ that is what you will get working for the likes of the SFO or the FSA. Going in-house would also give your CV a boost, if applications to law firms become difficult. However the time spent and experience gained with such an organisation would certainly enhance any future applications.

My professional hunch is that once your cv looks okay and you have instructed the most suitable recruiter that they will approach not just UK firms but USA firms based in London who do the type of work your experience seems suited to.

One final thought is that several of the big 4 accountancy firms who have legal departments may also be interested in your cv. If you pick the right recruiter they will know that.

Good luck.


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