LL Guest Feature: City vs Regional firms, which should you choose?

August 21, 2020

3 min read

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What's going on here?

City or regional, it’s the question every law student must face. Whether it’s at university or a question in interviews, you will no doubt have to choose (and justify) what type of law firm you want to work at. But how do you choose? There are some important things that you need to know in making your decision.

Regional firms

It seems to be that everyone pushes city firms, they say “that’s where the money is” or “the best go to the City”, but that’s simply not true. Whilst practicing at a firm in the City may be a good option, it is not the ONLY option.

In regional firms, you are far more likely to be given more responsibility and complex cases earlier on. Of course, in terms of your career progression, for either a regional firm or a City firm, you will always be the driving factor. If you want more responsibility, simply ask for it! But opportunities to ask for that responsibility will come far earlier in regional firms than City firms. It may even be that you find yourself able to develop a niche area of law! This increased responsibility means that you’ll have more interaction with client cases and so have to make more decisions. You will also do much more complex work, which accelerates your training, meaning you’ll be seeing a lot more drafting and advocacy work, as well as being exposed to clients more. Naturally, this means there is likely to be quicker progression; the road to partner could be much shorter

Another thing to consider is profile. Depending on the firm, you’re generally working closely with experienced professionals in a regional firm. You can learn from their experience, get access to their insights and potentially introductions to their networks. Every lawyer knows a good network always helps! For example, firms like SKB Law have an Academy which offers local students mentoring and work placements in which all of their team take part and lead on student engagement.

A good lawyer also knows that work/life balance is important. More often than not, the environment at a regional firm will be more relaxed with the option of flexible hours;  not everyone wants a power-track of 60+ hours and billable hours.

But what about the money? In many cases (but not necessarily) you may earn less than at a big firm, but you can make a bigger difference at a smaller firm. For example, you can specialise at boutique firms, with family law you can see the difference you’re making in a client’s life. You can also innovate; smaller firms are generally more open to ideas. So if you have suggestions on how to improve sales, marketing or client care, share them! 

City firms

Equally, regional firms may not be for everyone, and City firms certainly have their plus points. The forefront amongst most students’ minds is salary. Larger firms usually offer higher starting salaries and benefits, and this is a valid consideration.

You are also likely to get dedicated training and development with accredited or high profile colleagues. You may also get support staff to help with administrative tasks, freeing up your time to work on larger matters. 

An aspect that also attracts many law students in the chance for international experience. You get the potential to work on high-profile cases or travel if you’re working for a firm with global offices. Further, with more positions available, you could spend your entire career at one firm, meaning that you can clearly track your career growth

So, who should you choose?

We don’t want to sound like a cliche, but you choose the firm, they don’t necessarily choose you. Ultimately, you need to decide what is important to you and take it from there. Want to work abroad? You’ll probably think a City firm might be better suited to your needs. Want more responsibility early on? You might be better going to a regional firm. Whatever you decide, make sure that the firm works for you, after all, you’re in control of your career.

Report written in partnership with SKB Law

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