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High street or big city – what type of firm is for me?

High street or big city – what type of firm is for me?

Kate Stent

24/01/2022

Reading time: three minutes

From my experience in the workplace and studying, the big city firms are everywhere. We know their names, their mission statements and the areas of law they provide services in.

They do all of this through:

  • career fairs at universities;
  • social media;
  • insight days;
  • campus ambassadors etc.

However, not many high street firms engage in such marketing and I personally feel like they are rarely spoken about.

The phrase ‘high street’ is not always looked upon favourably in the legal industry and some have a preconceived idea that once you are in the high street legal world, you are not able to move to a city firm.

This view is not correct, it is possible, but it’s closely linked to the area of law you practice. There are distinct differences in the areas of law city firms and high street firms practice in.

City firms tend to focus on the commercial side advising and representing large businesses and wealthy clients, whereas high street firms tend to specialise in working with individuals in family, wills and probate, crime etc.

Read about the Solicitors’ practice areas.

Advantages of high-street firms

It is well known that the financial packages available at city firms along with the potential for international travel if the firm has offices abroad and the prestige of having a firm’s name on your CV will open many doors for any future career moves you make.

Disadvantages of high-street firms

However, it is also well known that long hours and a work/life balance is difficult to achieve at the big city firms. High street firms offer different opportunities by way of more responsibility, the firms tend to be smaller meaning you will more than likely be relied upon by management.

The level of contact with clients is greater due to the fact a lot of the clients live locally and tend to ‘walk-in’ and, finally, the benefit of lower commuting costs if you work for a firm closer to home partnered with a shorter commute can be a deciding factor for someone.

Legal aid funding

The main downside to working at a high street firm is a lot of them rely on legal aid funding and with funding cuts taking place over the years, it has left firms having to potentially turn people away if they do not qualify for funding. Coupled with the pandemic, some high street firms have struggled over the past two years.

Finally

Whichever route you take will depend mostly on the areas of law you are most interested in. There are lots of websites, social media accounts, reference pages that provide tips on researching firms and how they undertake their recruitment.

If you are unsure whether you would prefer commercial based areas of law or focus on individuals, there are multiservice firms that offer both so doing your research will come in handy!

To find out more about the types of law firms: