Finding a training contract can be hard work, but finding a training contract that’s actually the right fit for you can be even worse. There are thousands of law firms in England alone, and all vary in size, practice areas, age and location.
So, when it comes to graduation, and actually entering the legal world, the sector appears to be quite daunting. In an effort to try and showcase the variety that’s on offer, I’ve compiled a list of the advantages and disadvantages of two types of firm – regional law firms and those based in the city, typically in London.
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A regional firm is essentially a firm that is located outside of the City and away from London. However, this doesn’t mean they are always smaller in size; in fact, many have large headquarters and often other smaller offices spread around the locality.
Their type of work can be varied, but may focus upon major issues relevant to the area in which they are based.
It’s said that working in a firm away from the capital can be less intense, and therefore there is less of an expectation that you extremely work long hours.
This being said, commitment is still valued and a strong work ethic is sought after, albeit you may be allowed to leave the office before dark!
Typically, the intake of trainees per year is lower at these firms. This results in you being given targeted work to complete from the offset, and new starters are often involved with cases and clients directly from the offset.
Smaller firms sometimes specialise in niche areas of the law. This could mean working in specialisms that are new to you such as maritime law, for instance.
A first year trainee can expect to earn approximately £20,000 – £25,000 per year, which is roughly £10,000 less than what you may receive at a City firm.
In a commercial sense, and relating to transactions, a lot of the work dealt with by firms based in high streets tends to be of a lesser monetary value.
Although you may be involved with some dealings of property, the million pound deals may be kept strictly within the confines of a bigger firm based in a more centrally located area.
For the purposes of this comparison, I’m considering a City firm as somewhere which has its basis in London, with offices in different regions of England typically both in the north and south and includes those that make up the Magic Circle.
They often operate on an international scale, and have a high trainee intake of up to 100 per year.
>> Wondering what the Magic Circle is? Read our Magic Circle Law Firms: The Ultimate Guide page to find out more!
Often this is seen as the glamorous choice. The work is based in a central location, and will undoubtedly have an office built to impress clients and intimidate competitors. Think high rises and something that probably looks like its off the set of Suits.
It also gives you the chance to immerse yourself in all the things that come with living in a city, such as the social scene and attractions.
If the firm has multiple offices, it may be possible to move between the locations whilst working on tasks, or if you’re seeking a change as your career progresses.
There is also a likelihood that you will be involved in complex and challenging issues regarding high sums of money, especially if working in a commercial setting.
>> Want to find out more about working as a commercial lawyer? Take a look to our page on How to Become a Commercial Lawyer!
Your firm may be involved in high profile, and in turn, high risk work. Consequently, it is unlikely that trainees will be allowed to make any real contributions to these matters whilst first starting off.
Instead, you may find yourself dealing with matters such as administrative tasks to begin with.
Part and parcel of the nature of working in the City is that there are high expectations of you. Long hours are mandatory and the competitive nature of the sector transcends into the trainee environment. You must compete!
As mentioned previously, there are thousands of law firms operating at present in England, and narrowing down your choices when applying can be difficult. It’s important to find a firm which not only you appeal to, but also one which fits you personally and your own tastes. It’s best to seriously consider all the factors you find important and begin the search!
Published: 15/02/18 Author: Lauren Howard
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