LittleLaw Looks At… working in London offices compared to regional offices
May 19, 2022
3 min read
What’s going on here?
One of the most important things to consider when deciding which firms to apply to for a graduate job is the location. As London provides a plentiful supply of jobs at many different firms, it may seem the obvious choice to some. However, London life is not for everyone and there are very similar job opportunities in regional offices. So if you are currently undecided between working in London or a regional area, this LittleLaw comparison guide is for you!
Working in London offices
When most aspiring solicitors think about working in London, the international City law firms spring to mind. With work based in modern offices in central London, these firms are attractive to those who want to feel that inner city buzz.¹ Not only are the offices impressive, City firms come with prestige which is evidenced by their high-quality work and well-known clients. This provides trainees with opportunities to be involved in diverse and highly complex work, as well as options to complete secondments in locations such as New York.2 Another attraction to working in London is the financial package that accompanies the job. The average starting salary for trainee solicitors in London is £40,000, which is significantly more than counterparts in regional offices.3
However, there are drawbacks to working in London. As a huge city with notoriously high costs of living, it is common to have a longer commute to work than those in regional offices.4 London law firms are infamous for the long hours that lawyers are expected to put in and the stress that comes with this.5 There is an inherently competitive nature to law firms, especially those in London, which can make for an unpleasant training environment.6 Although some thrive off such a fast paced, competitive environment, this will not be for everyone. With up to 100 trainees in some City law firms,7 the environment may feel less personable and trainees can often be left with more administrative tasks which do not involve a huge amount of responsibility.8
Working in regional offices
In the past, smaller regional firms have struggled to draw in aspiring lawyers as they could not compete financially or provide the same opportunities as the larger City firms. However, with many City firms opening regional offices and increased recognition of the benefits of working for a regional firm, this has begun to change. Regional firms tend to offer more responsibility to trainees early on as teams are generally smaller.9 With more responsibility usually comes more client contact and first-hand experience dealing with cases which is beneficial for development and progression.10
Not only do regional firms provide great training opportunities, they offer personal benefits too. The working environment is usually more relaxed and personable with more consistent working hours when compared to London offices.11 This is a huge benefit as it provides employees with a better work-life balance and reduces the likelihood of employees becoming chronically stressed. Although the average salary is less than in London, the cost of living in regional areas is lower and recently, international law firms have upped their pay in their regional offices. For example, pay has increased by 35% to £65,000 for newly qualified solicitors in DLA Piper’s regional offices.12
LittleLaw's verdict: Choose the law firm that’s right for you!
The most important thing to take away from this report is that it is all down to your personal choice. Although many firms offer flexible working for part of the week, you still need to make sure that you choose somewhere that you will be happy to live and work for a couple of years. If you’re not keen on London but would still like to experience working in an international commercial law firm, an excellent compromise is working for a City firm in one of their regional offices.
Report written by Imogen Wilson
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- Lauren Howard, “Regional Law Firms vs City Law Firms: Where Should You Work?” (The Lawyer Portal, 15 February 2018).
- The Lawyer Portal, “The Big Debate: Big City Law Firms or Small Local Law Firms?”.
- Diletta, “5 things to know about working life in London” (EF, 6 September 2021).
- Emily Nicolle, “Stress in the City: How the UK’s top law firms manage employee wellbeing” (City A.M., 26 November 2018).
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- LawCareers.Net “Regional law firms v City firms” (2 October 2017).
- Sam Tobin, “DLA Piper wades into NQ salary war” (The Law Society, 8 February 2022).