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8 October 2019
When deciding to train or work in a regional law firm compared to that of a city firm, there’s a lot to consider.
From specialisms to types of clients, how much involvement and responsibility you would have on cases, as well as pay – there can be many determining factors.
In the past regional firms have always lost out to new trainees for the bright lights of the City.
City firms were seen to be larger, offering more exciting prospects and high-profile name cases, as well as higher salaries, then their regional counterparts.
However, the tide is slowly changing, and the wealth of opportunities that now come with training and working in regional firms is now much more widely publicised.
Individuals today have a different set of priorities from those of say 20 years ago.
Working in the right environment with the right culture and achieving a good work-life balance, as well as having a successful career, is the new ultimate dream.
A regional law firm is a company primarily based outside of the City. This doesn’t always mean they are smaller in size. Often regional firms will have multiple sites around the locality, offering more specialist services to that particular area.
City firms are those based in and around the capital. Firms based in the City will mostly form part of the Magic Circle and will operate on an international scale.
There are many benefits to working and training with smaller, more localised firms.
These can include: -
Greater flexibility with working hours. Building strong and lasting relationships is more of the focus in regional firms, rather than working long hours to suit. Long working hours can still come as part of the job, but extremely long working hours is a culture trait widely associated with city firms. Today, regional firms are seen to be opting for more flexible working solutions, offering flexitime and remote working, allowing for a better work-life balance to be achieved.
Cheaper cost of living. Living outside of the City does mean that the cost of living does go down. It’s not always about chasing the money anymore. When it comes to work-life balance, people want and are demanding so much more.
Greater career progression and personal development. In smaller firms, your achievements are recognised and rewarded much more. There is also more time for one to one support, helping to develop skills and experience in certain areas further and faster. This makes progression and promotion much more achievable over a shorter space of time.
More responsibility. Large city law firms have often been known to place a lot of administrative tasks onto trainee solicitors. However, due to the smaller scale of a regional firm, more responsibility is placed on trainees to help deal with the incoming caseloads.
Get to work on diverse cases. Smaller firms tend to specialise in specific areas of law, which allows you to develop your specialism if you choose.
More relaxed and friendly working environment. Smaller teams mean spending more time working closely together. This, in turn, can help to create a much more comfortable and social environment, a lot less corporate and stuffy, helping to reduce stress levels and increase positivity. Unfortunately, some city firms can’t shake the stigma for being intense. With continuing demanding workloads leading to long hours and no social life, these environments can be anything but relaxed.
Like with anything, there are two sides to every story, and the cons of working with a regional law firm can include:
Lower salary. Regional law firms will offer a much lower salary to what is available working in the City. However, this is counteracted as the cost of living outside of the City is lower.
Lower monetary value work. Regional firms will very rarely be closing the big multi-million-pound deals, like those within the magic circle. However, that’s not to say the work isn’t rewarding or important to the community.
Less impressive list of clients. Most high value, big-name clients will work with those law firms in the City – yet over the years there has also been a shift in this too.
Choosing the right law firm for you will all depend on the direction in which you would like to take your career and life.
If you’re looking to support local communities and play a vital role within, as well as hit the ground running with cases, and achieve a better work-life balance, then a regional law firm could be the perfect fit.
Wakefield Solicitors, JWP are a regional team of solicitors with offices based throughout the north of England.