AllAboutLaw

Company Culture | National Firms

The company culture at a national law firm often shares characteristics with both international and regional firms. You will have the chance to work with people from across the country, whether they are employees or clients. Even if a firm operates principally in the UK, some of your colleagues may come from abroad, which will expose you to a broad range of perspectives in the legal industry.

National law firms may partly be made up of multiple regional firms that have merged over time. Each office may still retain its own regional identity, meaning you could experience different company cultures depending on where you are placed. 

Unlike with international law firms, national ones often offer a better work-life balance. Since you will deal with less high-profile clients and cases, you could be put under less pressure and be less likely to be required to work into the night. As national firms mostly work in regional commercial hubs, as opposed to capital cities such as London, you are more likely to be able to afford to rent near your offices, in turn reducing the length and price of your commute.

Working in a regional office of a national law firm also offers you comprehensive training and arguably better opportunities for career progression compared to international firms. As national firms usually only hire a couple of trainees into each of their offices, your supervisors are more likely to be able to dedicate time and resources to support your development as a solicitor. The training contracts offered by national law firms offer an excellent pathway to complete your legal training and progress up the career ladder.  

Placements are often in small, close-knit teams,  providing a great setting to grow as a lawyer. There is usually less of a divide between departments within national firms than in international ones, with employees being highly supportive of each other. They offer a good entry point into the legal industry, and are a stepping stone if you are considering working for an international firm in the future. 

 

Type of Work | National Firms

At a national firm you support high-profile clients and get involved with local projects, giving you a flavour of the type of work that both international and regional law firms do. Contrary to popular opinion, working for a national law firm does not prevent you from working internationally or in an international environment. You could be working with multinational companies, for example, supporting them with their legal issues in the UK.

National firms also tend to be less specialised than city firms and international firms, giving you the chance to work in different areas of law depending on the department you are placed in. From energy and healthcare, to finance and shipping laws, national legal firms give you the option to pick and choose the specialisations that interest you the most. Your specialisation will depend on the office you are placed in. For example, while you will most likely deal with financial and commercial laws in cities, rural areas could give you the option to do legal work in agriculture.  

During a placement at a national firm you could also take on a larger role than at a city or international firm, giving you greater responsibility at an earlier point in your training. This can be an invaluable experience, especially if you are on a training contract and are looking to boost your CV. Smaller offices can also give a better understanding and overview of how the firm operates.

Potential clients

National firms work in a range of legal areas, so during a placement you are likely to have a large client base and support them in a wide variety of legal issues. Since you would be working in regional centres, you could have plenty of face-to-face contact with clients, allowing you to develop a closer relationship with them.

The fact that a national firm operates nationwide and with high profile clients means that you are also likely to have the option of doing a secondment. This is a wonderful opportunity to support a client in-house or be placed in another office and experience a different work culture. 

Where will I be working? | National Firms

In addition to working in London, national law firms tend to operate mainly in regional commercial hubs such as Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. For this reason, they usually attract solicitors who want to avoid the stress and expense of big city life and the often poor work-life balance that comes with it.

Working for a national firm does not stop you travelling either. You may be asked to move around the country in between offices, depending on your specialisation and the legal matters that are dealt with in each region.

Is this the right type of firm for me?

A National firm is for you if…

- You want to experience working in different areas of law.

- You prioritise a good work-life balance.

- You cherish the opportunity of being given more responsibilities.

You may want to reconsider if…

- You want to work with clients abroad.

- You enjoy working in a big city like London.

- The potential to earn the highest salaries is very important to you. 

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