Advice

I’ve been offered a training contract at a mega-paying US outfit, but my heart is still set on another firm

By on
49

I’d really appreciate readers’ advice on this

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one aspiring solicitor is caught between his head and his heart.

Since completing an informal placement at a top English firm (firm A) I went into my final year intending to work there and only there. I remain in regular contact with the firm and honestly believe I had/have a strong chance of getting an interview there. I applied for a TC in my third year and was invited to do a critical thinking test.

Just before applying to firm A, I applied to firm B, a top American firm. I had no intention of working there, I just wanted to go through the application process — a sort of ‘dry run’ before applying to firm A, and had heard the American application processes were the most rigorous.

However, I failed the critical thinking test to firm A, and was offered the place at American firm B. I failed the test frankly due to idiocy in not practicing it enough beforehand, which I can only put down to arrogance and immaturity at the time. I had spent a lot of time practicing a different but similar style of test, and thought that would be enough.

My current situation is therefore as follows: I have an offer from a top American firm, which pays accordingly. I honestly believe if I submitted my application to firm A on the day the window opens (around October time), I will be invited for an interview, and have been told as such. However, I have to give my answer to firm B’s contract this month (September). The money paid by firm B is just too much to turn down, in order to do a blind leap of faith into the unknown in the hope of possibly getting a chance at firm A.

My question is therefore this, if I accept firm B’s offer, and am subsequently offered a place at firm A and accept this, what are the probable consequences? Has anybody got an anecdote of anyone doing something similar? I appreciate help in advance.

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

49 Comments

Not an Idiot

Take the sure thing. Imagine turning it down and getting rejected from Firm A. Not worth the risk IMO.

(80)(0)

Anonymous

TAKE

THE

MONEY

NOW

(50)(0)

Anonymous

It’s like saying “this girl wants to bang me but I’ve got my heart set on another one.”

The correct answer to that being, get on with banging the first girl until such a time as the second one wants to bang you.

(24)(21)

Anonymous

If your heart is REALLY set on the other firm I suggest you hold tight. You’re receiving offers from ‘top US’ firms so I would guess your CV is fairly strong anyway. And reading between the lines (correct me if I am wrong) it sounds like the other firm (A) has basically said there’s an informal offer on the table already.

(2)(53)

Anonymous

REACH!!!

(1)(0)

S Club 7

🎼 For the stars…

(13)(1)

Anonymous

Depends on who firm A is…

DLA = No

Slaughters = Yes

(25)(33)

Anonymous

Agreed. I’m not sure Disability Living Allowance would compete with a mega-firm…

(18)(0)

Anonymous

Rumbled – he used the word ‘top’! Must be an inside LC job..

(47)(1)

TC hopeful

Omg, a TC is a TC they are bloody hard to get. I am still applying and applying and applying. Just take the TC and be thankful!!

(56)(6)

Anonymous

What he/she said. Get over yourself and take the damn opportunity – and count yourself lucky considering the ridiculous supply/demand skew there is for people in the professions..

(20)(0)

Anonymous

You’ve failed the critical reasoning test by even asking this question. Therefore reject both to reflect this.

(71)(1)

Anonymous

Also consider self exile, you cretin.

(16)(3)

Anonymous

Try this.

Do not join either firm. Working in corporate law will suck the joy and humanity from you and leave you an empty husk of a person. Because you will practice law that contains virtually no human emotion or values at all you will become very, very boring and dead behind the eyes. People – even other lawyers – will edge away from you at social events if you tell them what you do. Over time you will become a social leper unless you invent a fictitious cover story, learn it well and stick to it. Living this dual existence is likely to make you mentally ill.

In the long -term you will have no friends and probably no marriage. You will however have a vulgar house (with leaded windows) in the home counties and on retirement you will receive a framed picture and a vote of thanks from the partners.

(88)(10)

Anonymous

Very strong advice here. Do anything else – sell organic cupcakes, get into painting, design luxury yachts. Anything.

(28)(0)

Anonymous

You sound like a twat!

(14)(7)

Tommy

Takes one to know one, fucko.

(3)(2)

US Associate

A bird in the hand in worth two in the bush.

You still have to go through the interview process in Firm A which is a lot more difficult than the critical thinking test that you have already failed (speaking from experience). Even if you do get by the critical thinking test there’s further tests and assessments throughout the recruitment process and if Firm A is a Magic Circle firm, you still have to convince the partners interviewing you on the day that you’re the right one for the job.

I’m guessing if it is a MC firm then it is not Slaughter and May as they do not have a pre-interview critical thinking test. So on that basis, it’s probably one of the other MC firms. In that case they are most likely very similar to the top American firm, Firm B, and rated similarly across they’re practice areas. So take Firm B offer. The prestige offered by Firm A is worth nothing to be honest. You’re risking a lot by turning B down and ultimately it might be the wrong decision.

I think that the SRA rules state you can’t accept two offers. Assuming you have time to kill this year you could however, if you’re fixed on Firm A, keep the Firm B offer in your back pocket and apply again this year to Firm A. You can always withdraw your acceptance to Firm B before you accept A’s offer if you get one.

Both firms are going to be hard to work for so ultimately the allure of A has to be substantial to outweigh the money and quality of work in B.

(28)(2)

Libeturd Leftie

^^^^ This is strong prudent advice. So many people get caught up with perceived ethos of firms chambers and are in for a shock when they actually experience said firm/chambers.

IMHO accept firm A complete your TC and then if it is your desire to then move, move. At the very least you will (hopefully) have a substantial wad of cash in the bank, tangible and transferrable skills, a greater insight regarding the marketplace and a firmer grip on our career goals.

(11)(1)

Anonymous

There are no SRA rules anymore – they dropped out of the code in 2015.

Firms are not sticking to the code either (only supported by the Law Society, AGCAS and AGR) so candidates don’t need to either really. Reneging an offer when you have another is becoming more common, and is no different to how the investment banks have to deal with recruitment/reneges.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Take the firm offer. Law firms love to butter people up but until they have coughed out a contract you just can’t trust them. Also they are all pretty similar. Record your time. Get paid a fraction. Spend 90% of your time traversing office politics 10% of your time doing any advisory work.

(11)(0)

LegalRec

You cannot accept two offers but you can pull out of one upon receiving an offer. Circumstances change.

(8)(1)

Regrets

Take the firm B offer. You don’t have to stay there forever, you’ll get good money while you are there and it looks good on your CV. If you turn it down then fail to get an offer at firm A and end up at a less renowned firm you will regret it.

I’m Australian so no doubt the market is different but I turned down an offer from a top tier and took some warped moral high ground to accept an offer at a boutique practice that later imploded. I’ve always regretted it. Even if I’d only stuck it out for 2 or 3 years it would have been worth it to have it on my CV.

(11)(0)

Anonymous

Lather her up, get that TC secured. Make your mark tiger, run like the stallion you are. Don’t be afraid to get a bid fierce. Slap on your best garms.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Is firm b one that you would be able to survive 2 years at? Do some research to figure out your personal answer to that. If yes, accept the tc but also apply the other firm, and then if firm a offer you a tc you can tell firm b you’ve changed your mind (bad practice, but since the sra rules no longer apply it’s fine to do so). If no, then don’t accept. Others have said above that it’s difficult to get a tc, let alone a high paying one, which is very true, but if two years there is going to make you miserable/not be able to make it through the two years, it’s not worth accepting it. If you’ve got an offer from firm b, the likelihood is that several other firms are also possible for you, so don’t take a job you will hate, even though the security is obviously tempting.

(3)(0)

OP

That’s now the plan, thank you. Of course I could stick it out at B, I’m very fortunate to have got such an amazing offer, but I’ve had placements at both A and B and I know I felt a lot more part of Firm A. That being said, I enjoyed my time at Firm B too, so if Firm A doesn’t materialise, I’m still in a good position

(1)(2)

Anonymous

If you’re really asking this question despite the obvious answer and not just looking for an ego boost, you really don’t deserve the TC tbh

(18)(0)

Anonymous

You’re not even trying to obscure the fact that you’re writing these now.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

I wrote something to this end initially and it appears to have been deleted. This is just click bait, not a real career dilemma.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Fake question again posed by LC on a slow news day.

(15)(0)

Anonymous

Go for it !! not everyone gets a chance to work in a place like Firm B and if you don’t like it there you will get good experience. You will thus be able to enhance your CV and gain a taste of what it’s like. You can always leave and apply for Firm A. It might in fact increase your chances of getting into Firm A. Don’t become fixated on it you never know you actually might really like Firm B.

(1)(0)

MC mid level associate

It depends upon the firm itself (and into which practice area you wish to qualify) rather than the location of its HQ. In your situation, I would take the role at the US firm because it is a sure bet. Half the battle in law is getting some experience besides your name so you can make a lateral move as an associate down the track.

All of the above is provided that you have done your due diligence on the firm and its strengths/weaknesses. Your experience at firms like Kirkland or Sullivan & Cromwell or Reed Smith would be completely different. US firms are doing well in areas like M&A/Private Equity/Banking, but not so much in litigation, so its worth also considering what you want to do in advance.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

What the actual F****?! People are dying to find any TC and wusses like you have the money/heart dilemma….Get a life, seriously!

(1)(3)

Peter

I refer to the post @11:37am. Quit before you get sucked in. Did you like playing Sim City as a child? Consider getting into town planning maybe.

(2)(0)

Comments are closed.