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Crown Prosecution Service more ‘attractive’ place to work than the magic circle, say law students

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Aspiring lawyers value work/life balance over international career

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has topped a table of ‘most attractive’ employers for law students, seeing off competition from the City’s high-paying, perk-filled magic circle elite.

Ranked behind list topper the CPS, the agency which oversees criminal prosecutions across England and Wales, was Clifford Chance (3rd), Slaughter and May (4th), Allen & Overy (5th) and Linklaters (9th). The final member of the elite fivesome, Freshfields, placed 18th.

The Big Four accountancy giants, who continue to make inroads into the legal profession, also made the list which was compiled using the responses of almost 3,000 law students. Most appealing was PwC (20th), followed by EY (33rd), Deloitte (36th) and KPMG (37th).

Google scooped 2nd place on the list, while the Civil Service, BBC and Apple finished 6th, 7th and 8th, respectively. You can see a full breakdown of the results below:

Credit: Universum
The 2019 Legal Cheek LPC Most List

The marketing agency which compiled the data, Universum, found that the 39,900 UK students surveyed (including the 3,000 wannabe lawyers) expected a monthly salary of £2,271 — or £27,252 a year. A legal trainee at the CPS in London can expect to receive a salary of between £24,500 to £28,500, while Legal Cheek’s Firms Most List shows their counterparts at the magic circle can start on northwards of £45,000.

That said, a generational shift in career goals could explain the CPS’s winning charm. The research suggests students prioritise work/life balance, job security and serving a greater good over having an international career, working independently and being a technical expert.

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60 Comments

Anonymous

lol jk. IM at 11. Tells you everything you need to know about this list.

Anonymous

Did the CPS get more votes from students than all of the Magic Circle firms combined? If not, perhaps it’s incorrect to say the CPS are more popular than the Magic Circle.

Anonymous

Clearly IM are running an incredible campus campaign. Since being in practice (the last 5 years) I don’t think I’ve seen or read a single good thing about them!

Anonymous

Irwin Mitchell above Goldman Sachs eh… OK then.

Having a poo

To be fair a lot of weapons study law – the type that drop “#justice” into their LinkedIn posts. Not surprised IM appeals to that type.

Anonymous

CC third?! Christ.

Also, working in legal at Google or another big tech company is just like working at a law firm. You’re surrounded by lawyers, you get beasted and you’re about as likely to brief the board as you are to shit a unicorn. The only difference is you do it all in jeans and there’s bean bags nearby.

Anon

CC is the least stuffy and most innovative of the MC, and has some of the best work. Plus it has a bar, pool etc. and that’s unusual and quirky for students. Why is 3rd a surprise?

Anonymous

Because it’s notoriously sweaty and staffed by partners who are even more psychopathic than the City law standard.

Anonymous

I’ve worked at CC and completely disagree. You know what you’re getting in to when you join – you work long hours but you’re genuinely supported by partners who are literally the best in their fields. Considering this, the partners are friendly enough. If you want an easy life, don’t join a firm with more Band 1 rankings then any other law firm?! It’s a great place to work and the experience is invaluable.

Anonymous

Whoops – *than

Anonymous

lol

Anonymous

As a criminal barrister (doing plenty of private work and having a fairly nice time – before anyone accuses me of being a tramp) I read comments like this and feel an intense pity and sadness that a well-educated 20/30-something can be getting life so spectacularly wrong.

Anonymous

Still, criminal barrister, ten years from now that person you pity will earn in a month what you make in a year. And they will have a pension. And they won’t have to hang around courts with criminals everyday. So what don’t you patronise the fuck off?

Anonymous

Links is less elitist.

Anonymous

So a negative. Elitist is good unless you are lower tier.

Trad Trainee

Why do people speak as if being stuffy is a bad thing? It gives the whole firm a sense of order and structure, and creates unspoken codes of honour which everyone benefits from. Kirkland isn’t stuffy in the slightest and it’s populated by self-promoting arses who abuse and bully juniors – give me some genteel stuffiness any day.

Anonymous

CC is definitely sweatiest MC and has a much higher dickhead ratio among its partnership. I’m not sure what “stuffy” is supposed to mean in reality but CC is definitely no less than A&O or LL at least on that front.

Anonymous

Na

Anon

To be fair the CPS will offer really interesting work if you’re not looking for big bucks. I’m sure far more top students would go into criminal law if the money was better.

Google, BBC and Apple no surprise and Clifford Chance would likely appeal to students over the other MC as it has the best facilities in the City (alongside top work, obv).

However, Irwin Mitchell? At number 11?!?! Bizarre. I would recommend avoiding IM at all costs.

Anonymous

What a joke! These students have obviously never actually worked in any of these organisations

JDP

I hear you man, this comments section is full of fraudsters.

Anonymous

This shows there is no need to pander to the criminal bar’s demands for more and more public cash. There is plenty of supply at the young end to provide minimum low cost defence services.

Anonymous

It’s not lack of supply that’s the issue, but the quality of it. You should see the standards at the criminal bar today. Some in house CPS lawyers are semi literate (and I do not exaggerate).

Anonymous

Those who can’t, do crime.

Anonymous

Can’t do what? Photocopy a bundle?

Anonymous

This shows that you think the CPS defends cases. It doesn’t. It’s attractiveness may be that it is a 9-5 job with holidays and a pension. The criminal bar is not.

Anonymous

No, I know the CPS defends cases, but the attitudes show a cheaper more streamlined public defender service could be better and more cost efficient than the present model.

Anonymous

Except its not. The CDS is 75% more expensive than the Bar. This is why it was never rolled out and only operates in the orginal 4 pilot areas. You don’t get cheaper than fixed fees. A police station attendance pays £137 (whatever time of night and however long the attendance and however many attendances are required). No sick pay, holiday pay, maternity leave or pensions are paid by the LAA.

Anonymous

CPS does not defend cases, it prosecutes. clue is in the name.

Anonymous

CPS over Google? These kids need some learning

CMS

48th in the list but still nailed it!

Anonymous

I had a dream about CMS last night.

CMS Dr Freud

Do you want to talk about it?

Anonymous

I had a dream that I met a partner in the London office that was not a pompous over-aggressive twat. Then I woke up and realised it had to be a dream.

Penny W

This violates our LGBTQ+, female quota, justice for feminists, BAME, immigration, equality in the workplace and sustainably sourced tuna policies. Please report to me immediately.

Anonymous

This gave me cancer.

Anonymous

I had our diversity statement turned into loo roll. It gives immense added pleasure each dump I take

Anonymous

Picture Penny W and lots of tentacles. Guy P in a very tight fitting pair of leather trousers.

Anonymous

Just goes to show that salary isn’t everything. One cannot underestimate the pull of a tier 1 Pensions practice.

Anonymous

I’d rather drive a Porsche than a second hand Ford Fiesta.

Anonymous

you mean you’d rather be seen in a Porsche because this is London and “driving” is code for “sitting in traffic”.

And if all you want is to be seen to be “wealthy” then I suggest some therapy to fix that lack of self-esteem….it’s way cheaper.

Anonymous

Clearly IM are running an incredible campus campaign. During 5 years in practice I have never or read heard a single good thing about them.
To me it seems they are to lawyers what PE teachers are to education!

Anonymous

NHS? lol

Anonymous

The CPS is going to be on the list for more or less everyone interested in criminal law so it’s not suprising it beats out individual law firms. Ditto the civil service for anyone interested in public law. They also provide more pupilages than any individual chambers.

Anonymous

WHERE’s REED SMITH AT???

Anonymous

Not on the list, obviously.

Next?

Anonymous

Next aren’t either. Obviously.

House of Fraser?

Sportsdirect.com, UK's number 1

I am really in sync with the values and ideals of Sports Direct. Mike Ashley has been my idol and I truly aspire to be in his position of power.

Does sports direct offer any training contracts?

Anonymous

Much like most law firms, Sports Direct is sweaty, badly-run and full of massive mugs.

Anonymous

20 primrose street last I checked

Anonymous

CPS used to, at least, have a famously toxic culture, high turnover and shockingly bad pay. They must have got some good PR or this just proves what I’ve always suspected student surveys are largely pointless.

Anonymous

Yes and No. It does also have 9-5 hours, flexi-time, very generous sick pay (6 months on full pay) and a good pension. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is easy to see why that is attractive to a lot of people.

C(ra)PS

I was recently on a PSC course with some CPS trainees – They did not give me the impression that they felt the same as the students in this survey!

Anonymous

Have to compare like with like though. Pupils doing criminal work will not be on £27k. The CPS offers secondments to junior barristers which whilst it does mean a lot of trawling unused it pays about £50k. CPS staff were recently given a 10% rise. A reviewing lawyer gets about £50k. It isn’t megabucks but the hours are good and as the CPS have a monopoly on the work, it isn’t like the bar or being a freelancer defending where you have to compete for work with other firms. There has been a drain to the CPS from the junior bar for that reason. It is part of the reason why the average age of a duty solicitor is now 50. Terms are better in the CPS then defending on legal aid rates. The CPS is also as a result a lot more expensive.

Anonymous

DOES ANYONE HAVE THE NQ RATES AT HAYNES AND BOONE LLP THANK U

Infantile wretch

Poo poo.

Anonymous

Are most of those commenting in London or down south? I am a trainee in the northeast and the CPS is extremely attractive. Very decent money at 38k starting with clear progression opportunity, pension, hours and terms generally.

If I were to qualify into crime, the best I could expect is about 28k, weekend work for police station interviews, duty slots and a great deal of bureaucracy for legal aid compliance purposes and my own admin work.

Whilst the wages at the large firms are astronomical, the CPS seems to me to be a study career which would open doors.

Anonymous

Dream on mate….

The pension is shite, there is limited scope for real progession paywise which means that you’ll be renting for years… Why get into all that debt and not be able to buy a roof over your head all for a pension which is at a level attractive to nobody?

Anonymous

And seriously, what doors will it really open? There aren’t that many war crimes tribunals going anymore…

Anonymous

I’m fortunate to own my home so that is not a concern for me but I take your point.

In considering how the CPS progression works, it seems to provide a lot of opportunity to progress and specialise if that’s what you want. There is scope to head towards management or specialise in an area of crime. All of this comes with a defined salary progression.

The pension is better than the work place one I have now though I of course take the point that better pensions may be available.

Can I ask where you are from (generally) and whether you are speaking from experience?

What would you suggest is the best way forward?

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