Different Types of Law Firms
Considering a career in law requires utmost determination and careful planning. You need to think of your academic marks, examinations, vacation schemes, and training contract. This preparation does not stop after you completed the steps in becoming a qualified solicitor.
You still have to take into consideration the law firm where you want to practice law: location and size of the firm, the practice areas or the type of work that the firm specializes, and salary.
Sometimes we tend to generalize the types of law firms as “large” and “small” firms. Of course, there is more to the firm than its size. Take a lot at the listed categories to help you decide which type of firm matches your career goals.
These firms are mainly located strategically around the City of London, which is considered to be the hub of their international operations. These international firms have a global presence. They usually deal with large legal matters that have a specialized team to deal with the cases. They provide services for global businesses and industries.
Mostly these are the legal practices of these international firms: finance and banking, real estate, capital markets, litigation and dispute resolution, corporate mergers and acquisitions.
Working in these companies guarantees that you will be one of the highest paid trainees or practicing solicitors.
Mostly these international firms are American firms that set their base in London. They usually have limited openings for training positions. So if you decide to apply to these firms as a trainee, there will be likely limited colleagues whom you socialize with. However, despite less opportunity to socialize with the same peers, it can also be seen as beneficial for you as you mostly work with senior members of the company.
Law firms that belong to the famed ‘magic circle’ naturally have a bigger staff, reputable name, and more money.
Some of the firms under this category are Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, and Slaughter and May. These firms have big international clients. They mostly specialize in corporate and finance work.
If you consider working in any of these firms, you have to brace yourself for long hours in work. Working here can be pretty demanding as they have international clients. So if you are the type who is so into work and life balance, then you better think twice before sending your CV in any of these companies.
Another factor to consider in applying for these big companies is the fierce competition. You need to have an impressive education background and sufficient work experience and training so that your CV can stand out to warrant an interview.
National firms are primarily concentrated on single-jurisdiction UK based cases. Some of these companies are Addleshaw Goddard, Burges Salmon, and Shoosmiths. The works that national firms handle is not solely commercial. They offer many private and business services.
These national firms are also as esteemed as those international firms. These national firms just put more emphasis on domestic work. As these firms are as reputable as the international firms, working in these firms almost require the same demands as those working in those big American or international firms.
London is not the only place where you can work as a solicitor. Regional firms are spread to different locations like Birmingham, Oxford, Manchester, and other regions in the UK. Some of these firms might have international connections while some could have started as small high street law firms that later branched out to other locations.
The work in these firms is normally centered on regional catering to regional clients. Whereas, bigger regional firms also have international parties. These could be a good opportunity for solicitors who aspire to work in firms with international connections, but are not so excited to enter the grind in London.
One of the advantage working or training in a regional firm is the close, and more personal interaction among colleagues and partners as the firm is relatively small. You can experience a more satisfactory training in terms of experience and assignments. Though salaries may not be as high as those in the firms in London, take into consideration also that cost of living is always cheaper outside the London or any main cities.
When you consider applying to these regional firms, you also need to research details about the firm. The areas that these regional firms specialize are also varied. You also need to tailor your application based on the needs and parameters set by the firm.
Niche firms specialise one or two areas of law. The areas of law that is usually taken by these niche firms are those that are not popular to taken by other law firms. These areas can include media law, sports law, pensions, gambling, aviation, insurance, divorce, and others. Niche firms that specialise in any area of law are found in a location where there is a demand for such services.
If you are the type of solicitor who wants to specialise in a certain field in law, then niche firms are suitable for you. You will be able to practice and be part of firms specializing in an area which you are so passionate about.
Whether it is a niche firm or an international firm, you still need to do a thorough research about the company. Designing your application to the needs of the company will help your application to stand out among the other CVs vying for the same position.
General practice or High Street firms
High Street firms are small firms usually located within a single office. Employees in these firms vary. High Street firms usually deal with local individuals and small businesses.
If you do not want the cat-and-mouse race in those bigger and higher salaried firms, then high street firms are the best options for you.
In conclusion, there are many different kinds of firms where you can cast your application whether as a trainee or as a full practicing solicitor. With those options around, you must carefully study the firms of your interest.
It is critical to understand the culture, qualifications, and vision of these firms, so you end up applying to companies that share your values and interest. In the same manner, you can also assess your qualifications and decide yourself if you have a chance working in those companies of your choice.