Is regional experience valued by City law firms?

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Stick to the regions, or take a chance on London…


In the second of our new series of career conundrums, a trainee lawyer due to qualify at a regional law firm asks Legal Cheek readers whether it’s possible to bag a newly qualified (NQ) role in the City.

I am due to qualify at a well-respected commercial firm in Newcastle next year, however I am keen to relocate to London. I was offered a training contract at a major City firm a couple of years ago but decided to remain in the north where I was studying. What is the likelihood of securing an NQ role in the City of London? Should I gain more experience at my current firm before attempting a move? Do City firms look upon this regional experience favourably?

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Another fake question, just like last Friday.


Carpe Diem

The chances are quite high. Your timing is good. Consider US firms like White & Case which are expanding.

On the other hand it may be sensible to gain two or three years of post qualification experience and then make the move. Your life may have moved on by then however and there is no guarantee the relatively strong economic conditions will still be prevailing then.

In conclusion I would say that if your heart is set on London you should seize the moment.



Target City firms with a regional presence. Addleshaws, DLA, Eversheds etc



I’d say experience at any firm will be valued, but I’d stick it out in your current firm for few months at least. It’s a well-respected firm, so I’d try and get some more experience there first to bulk out your CV some more. There’s no rush, London will still be here when you decide to relocate


Not Amused

I think it would be helpful for young people trying to understand these issues if more people spoke honestly about the importance of timing.

Timing is crucial to a lot of success in law. In 2006 basically everyone who wanted one was offered an NQ position. They were not all geniuses. In 2009 really very very few people got offered an NQ position. They were not suddenly rubbish.

The market changes and evolves over time.

There is hierarchy in law because clients demand it. Young people looking to their future employability should accept that. The end result is that you should always accept the TC at the most prestigious firm that offers you. You will then be more employable in future.

If Firm A has an NQ position it will look to get the ‘best’ candidate it can. That ‘best’ is comprised of where the candidate trained. If they trained at an MC firm then they are perceived as better. But if the MC retains all its trainees that year, then there are no such candidates. So that is a question of timing. If you were going to be pipped for a job by a candidate who is perceived as better then it is very handy to be in 2006 (when none of those candidates are around) rather than 2009 (when the market is flooded with them).

People, particularly lawyers, are susceptible to blaming themselves rather than looking to timing. That is bad for two reasons:

1) Successful candidates deny the truth and often lose any sense of humility;
2) Unsuccessful candidates over blame themselves (or perceived injustice).

All we can say is this. The market today is not like 2006. It is not like 2009. Those are two extremes. The market is now more like 2006 than it has been and less like 2009. One day 2006 will come again, so will 2009. All you can do is be aware of timing and try anyway. Be humble if you are successful and don’t punish yourself or turn bitter if you are not.



Regional experience is valued in the City and always has been – the issue is that some work done in the City isn’t done in the regions, but where there’s crossover then it shouldn’t be a problem, especially at the junior end.



City firms hate povo’s with funny accents. Stop away.



The flow of traffic “up” and “down” (note the rabbit ears) the ladder very much depends on the economic cycle, as Not Amused is right to point out.

Right now, the flow of traffic is “up”, which suggests that it is at least possible to get into a City firm from a provincial firm.

Be warned though- for reasons that aren’t very good, it’s hard to burst into the City bubble. You will get interviewers who will think that you can’t cut it and will treat you as if you turned up on a tractor. If you find you’re banging your head against a brick wall, maybe Dubai or Outer London will be able to give you what you’re looking for (the City’s loss).

For NQ roles, go direct: do not go through a recruiter. Pick your seat and write to the head of that department directly (not HR) asking if they could use you. Enclose a CV- make sure the CV talks about what *you* did and the things *you* achieved. If you trust a senior lawyer you work with enough to say you want out, see if they have any contacts to whom they can send your CV along with a recommendation.

For areas like corporate and banking, there are lots of shops in the City with more jobs than NQs.

Good luck!



I’d go through a recruiter – much faster than writing direct to a multitude of firms.



You get out what you put in. Going through a recruiter does not require one to put much in at all. And doesn’t get you very far.

Recruiters are great for getting the jobs that are being advertised. They are much less good for getting you to the front of the queue for a job that’s only a thought. Also, some partners will interview first the people who approached them directly (or contact them when a job *does* come up). If you’re good enough, they might stop the search there and then.

If you’re dead set on moving, the upheaval and time that you’ll need to commit to writing maybe 20 letters is a microscopic fraction of the amount you’ll need to commit to moving. If writing some letters are too much effort for you, packing up your life and moving down south is definitely going to be beyond you.





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