Researching law firms
There are hundreds of law firms out there that offer budding solicitors such as yourself the opportunity to undertake two years of training before being unleashed in the legal world and getting those billable hours ticking over. But with so many firms to choose from, how can you narrow down your choices and effectively research?
Type of firm & location
The first, arguably most logical way to research law firms is by narrowing them down by type of firm. There are five main types of law firm; City, International, National/Regional, US-based and Scottish. An increasing number of City law firms are also regarded as international firms and a training contract at this type of firm is the crème de la crème of law graduate opportunities. Some firms may even be categorised as transatlantic firms, like Womble Bond Dickinson.
Working at a particular type of firm will understandably have a different effect on your lifestyle. Trainees at city, international and US-based firms will often have to work longer hours due to the areas of law that these types of firms usually specialise in, e.g. corporate. However, trainees at these types of firms can expect to be rolling in the big bucks. You’re also all but certain to be based in London, so if a life in the Big Smoke isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps it’s worth considering a national or regional firm.
You’re likely to experience a slightly more favourable work-life balance at a national/regional firm too. On top of this, there may a greater opportunity for quicker career progression at a national or regional firm, due to a smaller team of lawyers. Scottish firms should be considered by those who have a qualifying law degree in Scots law (duh!).
Area of law
Not fussed where you live? Perhaps you just have an undying passion for a particular area of law and would like to work at a firm that specialise in this area. If this is the case, then head over to Google (other search engines are available too) and get searching. We can point you in the direction of some firms. Even though Slaughter and May are a full service firm, their reputation in banking and finance law is second to none, particularly due to their work with HM Treasury following the fallout of the economic crisis of 2007-08. Charles Randell, formerly a corporate partner at the firm, led a team of 12 partners to bail out Britain’s banking system, commanding a reported fee of £500 (and that was just for Randell). As a result, the firm is renowned for their speciality in this area.
Researching where you’d like to work is only half the battle. On top of this you need to be aware of the firm’s recent work (you can have the Slaughters case study above for free), the state of the legal market and current trends. That’s where commercial awareness comes in, but that’s a whole different story…
Finding a Training Contract