Deciding which law firm you want to start your legal career with is a difficult one. Training contracts last two years and the majority of people stay at their firm post-qualification.
Thus, it is important that you choose somewhere that suits you and the direction of your legal career. Do you like the sound of a US firm? Is an international presence important to you? Or trwould you prefer a more local, high-street or regional firm? Perhaps you want to practice in Scotland?
These are the questions you need to be asking yourself. Don’t worry if at this point you have no idea what the difference is between these types of firms. We’ve compiled a summary of the key aspects of Magic Circle, international, US, regional, Scottish and high street firms.
Every aspiring lawyer has heard of the Magic Circle Law Firms; the most prestigious and esteemed firms not just in the UK, but the world.
The Magic Circle is made up of Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter and May.
To work at one of these firms you must have excellent academics as a given, but also be ambitious, commercially astute, and dedicated to commercial law. If you’re interested in dealing with high-profile clients on huge transactional deals, this is the area for you.
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The Magic Circle are not the only prestigious firms that are involved in high value transactional and international deals. Outside of the Magic Circle, there are many firms, many differing in their specialisms, that may suit you better. Some of these are so-called silver circle firms, namely Ashurst, Herbert Smith Freehills, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Travers Smith and Macfarlanes.
US firms have been known to reward long hours with large salaries, with prestigious work rivalling that of the Magic Circle and other City firms. With an often smaller intake and likelihood of more responsibility, a US firm may spark your interest.
With some UK firms merging with US firms, you may be intrigued by the mix of culture and opportunities that such mergers establish.
If you are wanting to establish your career near where you’ve grown up or perhaps want to settle in a different region outside of the city, but still want to get involved in similar commercial work, a regional law firm may be for you.
High calibre legal work is not confined to London, with growing legal hubs around the country in areas from Leeds to all the way down in the south-west.
If you’re interested in Scots Law and have a Scottish Law degree, a Scottish firm may be right for you. It is possible to qualify in Scotland with an English LLB but it is not a simple process. With large firms in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, there isn’t a shortage of options when it comes to working as a Scottish lawyer.
If you like the idea of working in a small team in a local community,m a high-street firm might be best for you. With work such as preparing wills or dealing with family matters, the average day of a high-street solicitor could not be more different to that of a solicitor in the Magic Circle.
To really understand what it’s like to work at any of these type of firms, work experience is key. You may want to apply for a vacation scheme or attain more informal work experience at a smaller firm.