Advice

‘I want to be a City of London lawyer. Should I reject my regional training contract offer?’

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An aspiring lawyer requires readers’ advice

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one aspiring City of London lawyer has been offered a training contract at the regional office of an international law firm. Should he accept it?

“I have been offered a training contract (following a vacation scheme) at a large international firm, in one of its regional offices. I am in a predicament as I live near London and have family commitments which means it will be really difficult for me to move out of home at this moment. I also currently work in London as a paralegal and love everything about the City. I would also have to take a paycut for the trainee role.

Should I reject this training contract offer and reapply to other firms in their London office? Or should I accept it and deal with my family situation for the next two years and hope I can move to London after qualification? For background, since interviewing for the vacation scheme in January, I have completed a document review paralegal role, another vacation scheme at a London firm (a well-known firm but not in the City) as well as spending the past six months as an in-house paralegal at an international company. These experiences make me think I have a decent shot of getting a City TC this time around but obviously the thought of rejecting a training contract seems very silly.

Note the firm require repayment of LPC fees if I leave on qualification which means I could be tied down.”

If you have a career conundrum, email us at team@legalcheek.com.

77 Comments

Anon

I had similar experience… look at the seat options; you may want to practise in an area that the London office doesn’t offer a seat in, in that case you should follow where the seat option is.

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I rejected a TC

I rejected a TC at a reputable firm without another TC in hand. The question you should ask yourself is what would you regret? If you accepted it, would you regret not risking it for the next 5 years of your life, OR, if you reject it and get nothing would you regret more you decision to risk it? What can you most live with? In your heart you already know the answer, you just have to ask it the 2 questions.

Best of luck.

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Round the Wrekin

Birmingham? Think long term and the accent you are risking for your kids. Then put the TC in the bin knowing your children will thank you forever.

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Grace

Clearly from Telford/Shropshire!

Ultimately in the long term, you don’t have to stay where you do your training contract. Lots of people join London firms later down their career.

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Bombi

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W@nk detector

What a wanker.

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Centralist

Birmingham is a great place to live whatever ones age or stage in life. Many parts of London are awful in comparison. Also bear in mind that in London you will likely be renting for ever whereas in Birmingham you will be able to buy a home.

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Grace

ACCEPT
What an amazing achievement. It’s two years of your life, and Birmingham is a great city of opportunity. You’ll likely get a secondment to a client or a London office, and once you’re NQ the world is your oyster!

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Roflcopter

Lööööööl Birmingham is about as appealing as Chernobyl, fuck that

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NQ

Some small-minded responses here… There’s nothing wrong with working outside of London and you would likely be able to move across to the firm’s London offices at some point after your training contract is over. If not, you’ll have trained at a top law firm and can look for other jobs as a qualified lawyer, which is a much better position to be in than a student without a training contract. It’s a lot easier finding a job as a NQ than it is to secure a training contract.

That said, if you’ve thought about it, you really, really want to work in London and you’re confident you’ll be able to secure a training contract at a London firm, then hold out. Training contracts aren’t easy to come by these days, especially in the City, but by the sounds of it you’re doing just fine.

In terms of salaries, they might appear substantially lower outside of London, but in reality a significant part of that higher City salary is to cover the higher cost of living. The remainder of it you’ll have to earn by practically living in the office day and night, but I’m sure you’re aware of that.

Finally, only you will know how important your family circumstances are, but if you’re looking to work at a top firm in the City then chances are you won’t be seeing them much in the next few years anyway. You will need to think about how important those commitments are, how long they are going to last, the logistics of living/working away for at least a couple of years and, ultimately, what’s best for your career in the long term. Good luck.

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MC NQ

I know several associates at my firm who trained regionally and then were laterally hired at 2-5 PQE. Some first moved to a smaller city firm for a couple of years before moving to the MC. I would take the regional TC and stay with your firm for two years after qualification. You will then have a lot of options to move to a city firm or to a London in-house position if that is what you want.

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CD

A good friend of mine started in a small one man band firm in Birmingham when we were trainees, now 10 years later, he’ll be moving to a national firm, in London, as a Partner. If you have what it takes then geography is irrelevant.

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Anon

Lots of comments about it being poor form for the firm to lock in trainees for 2 years post-qualification, or ask for fees/grants to be repaid. Not saying it’s the right thing to do but seems to be becoming more widespread – PM, M&R, DLA…

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Anon

I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the somewhat blinkered lot suggesting that a training contract in the regions (for a large international firm) in any way precludes a move to the city. Having studied in London, I (now 4 years PQE) trained at a large international firm in a regional office and not only was the quality of work and pedigree of client exactly the same as for our London trainees (if not better – less bundling/photocopying) but it didn’t prejudice a City move in the slightest – three of our trainees (out of three who wanted to) moved (internally) to London either on qualification or within a couple of years after qualifying and I have been offered jobs both in PP and in-house down in London on a number of occasions myself.

I’ve since moved to another international firm and the exact same happened here. Family considerations are important but if its the status aspect you’re worried about then I don’t think you need to sweat it too much.

Where I would be cautious however, is if the offer is from a newly established regional office of a firm – these are generally being set up as low cost centre volume-work hubs and so the quality of experience may suffer if you end up there.

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Anon

One thing I’ve not seen mentioned is whether the firm you’ve got the offer at advertises NQ positions on a national basis. I’m in a regional office of an international firm and our jobs list includes every position on a firm wide basis. Each job has a number and you can apply for any job you would like. Every year, regional trainees qualify into London. You’d need to focus on getting to know the relevant partner in the London team you want to qualify into but in many teams as a regional trainee you’ll be in London at least monthly anyway, and London partners will visit regional offices too.

If you’re actually open and honest about your wish to qualify in London (not in a cocky way but just in a straightforward way) in my experience, if you’re good, many regional partners will help you because they would rather retain you within the firm than let you go – you’re a known entity having trained there for 2 years, hiring laterally is always a bit of a risk and if they are advertising a job they need the extra pair of hands so every week that vacancy isn’t filled the partners are having resourcing issues & risking overworked team members themselves moving on!

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Ronald

Why on Earth would you want to be a lawyer in the City? It can’t be a desire to have a good work/life balance.

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anon

TBH its difficult to move to a higher tier firm from a regional office. not impossible, but very difficult. Imagine that there’s glut of NQs floating around as well from London firms looking to move or qualify somewhere and unless you’re confident that they quality of work is same or of higher quality in the regional firm then fine. If not its a ridiculously uphill battle

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