London via the back door: Do I accept my Midlands training contract offer?

Sights set on the City

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, a City-chaser turns his nose up at his Midlands training contract offer.

I have just finished my law degree at the University of Manchester and live in Leeds. Since I can remember I’ve always wanted to live in London and applied in my second and third year for training contracts at most the big City firms. After my first round of applications and with no offers, I felt defeated and fired off some applications in my final year to a few firms closer to home and, hey presto, I’ve been given an offer at a firm in the Midlands. I’m quite pissed off about it because I must have applied for 50+ London training contracts so it’s typical I’d get an offer with one of just two non-London firms I applied for. Part of me thinks I should accept the offer because the firm has an office in London and a few people have suggested I could ask to qualify into its London office, which I think is a good idea. Others say firms discourage and actively block this from happening. If I accept my offer, can I qualify in London? Or will I be stuck here forever?

If you have a career conundrum, email us with it to careers@legalcheek.com.

46 Comments

Anon

There’s nothing to stop you qualifying in the Midlands and seeking a job in London at another firm later assuming you’re not planning to step between completely incomparable firms/practising experience. Given scarcity of TCs don’t be too quick to turn your nose up at it

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Anonymous

Speaking with a selfish point of view, I would take it. It’s currently your only guarantee of qualifying. Firms hate being used as a means to an end in that way, particularly regional firms, but at the end of the day it’s a two way street – they might not even have a job for you at the end of your training contract to stay there. If you are good enough and your firm is a well respected firm, a move to London afterwards would not be impossible, even if this is later on at 1 or 2 years PQE.

(25)(0)
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Anonymous

Totally agree. And sometimes the market might pick up and can use that to move to London. But there are different firms and different pays and different lives that go with it.
Take the offer, get qualified and go from there.

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Big swinging DICK

Mate, if you train at a Beta firm, London shops will see you as a Beta. They’ll laugh you out the door with all your ‘experience’ in the family law department.

(14)(6)
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LADDINGTON BEAR

Whereas presumably the Beta will laugh back “I’ve just spent two years servicing emotionally damaged divorcees, suck it (like your mum did, and boy was she energetic after we rinsed your dad)”.

(4)(1)
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Anonymous

There’s loads of regional lawyers at London firms. If the job is with a decent commercial firm and you can stomach living wherever it is, then go for it. 2 years flies by and there’s always time for London later.

(6)(1)
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Anonymous

Take the contract, get qualified and then apply for jobs in London firms. London’s expensive, and to quote Alan Partridge ‘go to London, you’ll either get mugged or unappreciated’. Don’t get me wrong, I love London but there’s some truth to the King of Anglia’s wisdom.

(10)(0)
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Anonymous

Take the offer (especially if the firm is one of the decent, mid-sized international firms based in London). Offers are much harder to come by than the comments section of most Legal Cheek articles would have you believe.

Find out if the firm’s London office has any particular strengths. If it does, put that area forward as being one of interest to you when you meet HR. They may be able to arrange for you to undertake a seat with that team in London.

(16)(0)
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Nothing but the truth

You applied for 50+ London and got nothing – what makes you think you will be successful applying to London firms again if you turn the Birmingham one down?

Take the offer idiot

(25)(0)
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Jojo

It doesn’t sound as if you have a problem with the actual firm but if that was the case, then yes, I would advise you to turn down the offer and keep searching. But as it seems as if it is purely the location, location, location question that is bothering you, the fact (as others have already pointed out) that the firm has a presence in London should give you a way-in to the capital upon qualification. ‘Bagging’ a TC is, as you know, super difficult and it can be highly demoralising hearing rejection after rejection. I personally turned down a training contract when I was 22 at a regional firm because I wanted to train in-house. It took me 2 more years to find the TC I wanted and during that time I really, really regretted my decision. It all worked out fine for me but I am not going to tell porkies and say I didn’t chastise myself for rejecting a guaranteed offer! So whatever you do decide, make sure you’ve really thought about it and the reasons why you’re saying no are more than just because you want to live in London. You can always relocate later.

Good luck.

(14)(1)
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Anonymous

I come from very similar circumstances to yourself and I used to have, until recently, a very similar attitude to yourself. The thought of being in a regional firm or office used to fill me with dread because it was the idea of moving back home, or somewhere similar to home, and I really hated that idea. But you’ve got to sober up a little and accept reality – if you really want to become a solicitor, and it’s your only option right now, then just take it. It’s not impossible to move to London after your TC.

(1)(1)
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Anonymous

If this helps, I qualified in a local law firm in the Midlands. Today only a few years after qualifying, I am an in-house lawyer in London. I wouldn’t change my experience for anything, I was given responsibility for my own files from an early stage in my TC, so when I qualified, I ‘sort of’ knew what I was doing. You don’t get that level of responsibility in London.

(7)(0)
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Anonymous

Whether you can move to London (or a City /international firm) at NQ (or 1 or 2pqe) depends on the type of firm you’re training with, seats you’ve done and (most importantly) the market at that time. Better to take a training contract with a better firm in the Midlands (preferably one people have heard of elsewhere, assuming it’s not a national firm) than a crap London firm. And try your best to get corporate, finance and real estate seats. It’s a very well-trodden path from decent regional firms into London – the market is a bit soft at the minute but in two years it may be all change.

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Anonymous

If you reject this offer you’ll probably end up doing the LPC without a TC then working in the Financial Ombudsman as a non-lawyer adjudicating sh1tty trumped up claims and leading a miserable existence.

(7)(0)
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Pepe

Take up City specific seats. Corp-comm, finance, banking if possible and choose the firm with the most City exposure.

It’s mostly photocopying​ and is a means to an end.

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Giam Lallagher

Via the back door? The title should read: London via the absolute arse hole of the UK – and a filthy one at that – the Midlands.

(0)(0)
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