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Building a career in the regions in 2019
In 2018, we saw an increasing number of legal professionals from London move to or considering a move to the regions. Our business has helped to relocate a number of legal professionals to different parts of the country. As a result of these moves, legal professionals are noticing that regional law firms are keen to hire top professionals, and this reflects in the salaries that they offer to candidates.
This is because the regional markets are full of great solicitors, but remain short on candidates at certain levels of PQE and across certain disciplines. There is a particular demand for transactional lawyers in real estate, corporate, tax and banking, as well as demand within commercial and IT/IP and employment law. If you are a driven and ambitious solicitor at any level and considering a move, there are opportunities available right across the UK.
Looking at the Midlands market particularly, what is currently on offer for legal candidates who might be contemplating a move out of London?
I don’t want to compromise on the quality of my work – will this be affected by a move out of London?
Corporate teams are running high profile, often international corporate, M&A work out of their Midlands offices for leading international companies. These are not deals that are being half-serviced out of Birmingham, but deals that are led by Midlands’ partners and driven by Midlands’ teams alone.
Birmingham teams have a genuine national focus and there is an increasing number of London based clients who are looking to bring work to the regions for cost purposes.
I have re-evaluated my work-life balance priorities – will I definitely be able to keep a good balance in the regions?
For the record, lawyers in the regions work very hard. Moving out of London should not be seen as an opportunity to push on the brakes because our clients are still looking for lawyers with ambition, drive and motivation.
However, it is certainly a chance to reclaim a work-life balance. There is such a variety of law firms in the area that you can make the move regardless of your career ambitions. Ultimately, you don’t have to be chained to your desk and you should aim to have a healthy balance between your work and personal life.
I am ambitious, but finding it difficult to get a promotion – what are my prospects in the Midlands?
Teams tend to be smaller in the Midlands than in London and therefore the right people can progress through the ranks to partnership faster.
The elusive client following that lawyers so often need to make an external move at a mid to senior level is not as much of an issue. We work with law firms in the Midlands who are more open-minded about finding the right skill set and person.
In certain disciplines, there is more opportunity to move at a senior level for an outstanding lawyer. There are many junior lawyers in the area who are holding senior positions, as many firms will reward high achievers and promote through a meritocracy rather than fixating on PQE.
Will I have to take a huge pay cut?
London firms pay London rates, which tend to be higher. Where it is unlikely that this will ever change, law firms in the regions will continue to be competitive for the right candidates. Equally, the cost of housing and living in the Midlands is significantly lower.
Finally, would Midland’s law firms be interested in me?
The standard of lawyers in the Midlands is excellent and there are plenty of great candidates. However, our clients will always be interested in and will recruit solicitors from outside of the region. Excellent solicitors from particular disciplines (real estate, corporate, tax and banking, and commercial, IP/IT) will almost always spark immediate interest, but the overall message is that there are options available to hard-working legal professionals at all levels.
For a confidential discussion about opportunities in the legal sector across the country, contact one of our specialist recruitment consultants today.