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Types of Law Firms in the UK

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12 December 2019

Types of Law Firms in the UK

With approximately 10,500 law firms in England and Wales all offering different services, knowing the different “types” of law firms out, there can certainly help narrow down your search. 

Law firms can be categorised as high-street firms, regional or national firms, US firms operating in the UK, magic circle or silver circle firms, and those law firms that offer overseas seats. 


In this post, we look at law firm types, what they can offer trainees solicitors and ultimately, how they can benefit you. 

Types of Law Firms 

Magic Circle – law firms that fall into this category are those that every law student wants to carry out their training with. Known to be CV gold, these big, and we mean big, firms can provide all of the right stepping stones. Law firms within this circle are corporate giants, where the focus is always on “the bigger, the better.” In this sense law firms in this area will always focus on the big deals, chasing big money and have the big staffing numbers to support. 

Legal areas within the magic circle primarily focus on corporate and financial law as well as those big-spending international clients. 

Some of the most exciting places to work, these law firms tend to be large, fast-paced, with high profile clients. 

However, although these companies are big and quite often a force to be reckoned with, long hours come as standard, and all staff members must have their focus on keeping profits high and clients happy. 

Large Commercial Firms – also known as the “silver circle” offer trainees solicitors similar experiences and training opportunities as the magic circle cohort, just on a slightly smaller scale. Known also as the “chasing the pack” set of legal firms, the silver circle will also work on corporate and financial deals as well as carry out some international work. 

This band of law firms continues to grow as mergers with international firms is a popular business choice, offering more experience and personnel to clients. 

US firms in the UK – cementing their place with the UK market, US law firms have been crossing the Atlantic since the 1970s. Primarily carrying out international work, these firms are often much smaller in size and staffing levels. 

Due to their size, for trainee solicitors, more responsibility can indeed be passed across, and traditionally, these firms are known for paying incredibly high salaries. 

These firms are often considered very influential as they are deemed to have influenced all over the world. Usually, these firms provide an excellent opportunity to become part of a much bigger and more diverse workforce. 

Today, many UK and US firms are finding common ground and benefit in merging, combining resources, and offering a much broader service to their clients. 

Mid-sized Commercial Firms – committed to business law and business clients predominantly, these law firms can quite often give the big guys a run for their money when it comes to profitability. 

Due to the size of the deals and cases these firms take on, trainee solicitors can get much more involved and can do much more than basic administrative duties. 

Smaller and with a more intimate setting, you’ll never forget a face within these firms. 

Smaller Commercial Firms – for a better work-life balance and where the money isn’t everything, smaller law firms can be a great choice. Smaller firms will often be full-service agencies while still building their reputation in specific and more targeted areas. 

Real estate and commercial work/projects are most favoured within these firms. 

Niche Firms – are precisely what they say on the tin. These law firms are specialists within a specific area/field of law. This can range from family law to insurance, energy, shipping, fashion, sports, intellectual property, and more. 

These firms are very much high in demand and often boast high success levels. 

Regional Firms – Offering local reassurances and a wide range of expertise, law firms in Leeds, like JWP Solicitors, work for some first-class clients on some big cases and deals. 

Just as competitive as their national counterparts, these law firms focus on the needs of their regional clients as well as play a significant role in their local community. 

National or Multi-Site Firms – local firms operating across multiple sites can provide a large operation as well as a broader range of skills and expertise. Trainee solicitors within these firms will be expected to move around sites gaining experience and exposure across the wider spectrum of law. 

Mainly dealing with commercial work, multi-site firms will also have the occasional private client which they will take on. 

General Practices – these high-street firms work with cases that directly affect individuals and the community. Lawyers grow up fast in these firms as training takes place quickly so you can hit the ground running. 

Knowing the different law firm types will help you to not only identify some of the best law firms in Leeds, for example, but also find the ones that you would like to work with and as a trainee solicitor learns from. 

Taking everything into account, such as specialist areas, company culture, as well as current client base, will all be key factors in the overall decision. 

As the best law firm in Leeds, JWP Solicitors has a lot to offer and areas of expertise that provide superb success rates across our client’s cases. 

To find out more contact 0113 3979 550 or check out our website for further information. 

Phoebe Walsh