City firm vs. Regional firm

  • Last updated 27-Jul-2016 16:20:51
  • By Sara Duxbury, Head of People, Fletchers Solicitors

For many trainee solicitors starting out on a career in law, the list of priorities is shifting with many focusing on the quality of their experience rather than the size of the firm. Sara Duxbury, head of people at Fletchers Solicitors, explains why some regional law firms may actually have more to offer new recruits than the larger ones.

Today’s graduates have a different set of priorities from those of 20 years ago. Work-life balance and finding an employer with the right culture are high on their wish list, as well as wanting a successful career. 

For this reason, regional law firms are increasingly tempting talented individuals away from the bright lights of major City firms.

The intensity of City firms

While still a demanding choice of career, it is often the case that the long hours culture of the big city firms are less prevalent in their smaller regional counterparts.

Recent research found that some lawyers can work an average of between 70-80 hours per week. This is equivalent to working over 10 hours every day of the week (including the weekends!). Therefore, ‘having a social life’ is likely to be low on the to-do list the minute you enter the profession.

Regional firms tend to be more relaxed

As well as offering an alternative to this exhausting lifestyle, many regional firms are also tempting new recruits by offering more flexible working practices, including ‘flexi-time’ or remote working which allow lawyers to vary their work schedule and location to fit in with other priorities such as family life and transport arrangements.

Workers at regional firms also benefit from a much reduced cost of living, with housing much cheaper away from London’s premium prices, meaning more bang for your buck when it comes to living quarters and the opportunity for people to get a foot on the housing ladder at a younger age.

More opportunities for advancement?

It can also be easier to get noticed within a smaller firm environment, not only gaining greater one-to-one time with senior lawyers, but also to have your successes and progress noted and rewarded more quickly, through progression and promotion within the firm.

You’re also more likely to be given greater responsibility at an earlier stage, with younger solicitors given the chance to step up as soon as they are able rather than after a specific time frame or when it is their ‘turn’.

Taking all these factors into account it’s easy to see why many capable trainees are coming to the conclusion that a big city firm is not the right choice for them, opting instead for a different type of legal career.

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