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The Oracle

How do I choose the right firm for me?

updated on 28 June 2022

Dear Oracle

I’m an aspiring solicitor who is having trouble deciding the right law firm for me. What do I do?

The Oracle replies

Reading time: four minutes

Answering this question is perhaps the most pivotal point of a legal career. The outcome has the potential to shift where you live, the hours you work and the mindset you have towards life. So, it’s understandable that you should want advice on this question.

The answer is of course down to personal preference and your decision-making style. And it’s also important to note that many people will not have the luxury of making this decision in the final instance – getting one training contract offer is all you need, so be proud if (and when!) you achieve it. But there are a lot of decisions leading to this point, all of which are ultimately shaped by your answer to the question of which firm would be ‘right’ for you.

Stay on top of your training contract applications by using LCN’s training contract advanced search to get organised.

So how should you go about tackling it? Well, to think of it as a single, black-and-white question isn’t the best way to start.

How to narrow down your search

Firstly, remember that there isn’t such a thing as the ‘right’ firm – chances are you’ll work at several different firms throughout your career and be happy at most, if not all, of them.

Secondly, trying to discover your favourite firm from the outset of the decision-making process would be like asking a baby to decide on their favourite food when they’ve tried none. Without having researched and considered the different options, how are you meant to subjectively compare a criminal law firm in London against a high-street family firm in Wales?

Read this LCN Says to discover how to find the right firm for your career and disability.

If you haven’t done so already, consider the following questions:

  • Where in the world/country do I want to practise?
  • Do I want to work at a big firm?
  • Which field of law interests me?
  • How much client contact would I like, and with what sort of client?
  • Do I want the opportunity to complete an international or client secondment?
  • What sort of hours would I feel comfortable working?
  • How much do I value a firm having prestige?
  • Would I prefer a traditional or modern law firm?

You may not be able to answer all of these questions, and you may feel a lot more strongly about some of your answers than others. But this is good! In considering the answers to these smaller questions, you’ll get a better idea of where your priorities lie. These priorities can then be your point of focus when later evaluating different firms. That’s why it’s important to consider what your priorities are before you start your research – if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you won’t know you’ve found it even if it’s staring you in the face!

The power of research

This leads onto the next stage of the process – research. There are LCN Says and Features written about this topic specifically, but key to this piece is the application of your newly-discovered priorities to your research. Let these priorities guide you, and don’t be afraid to stop researching a firm if they don’t fit those priorities.

For advice on how to make the most of your free MyLCN account, head to LCN’s MyLCN guide!

This can be a scary step, especially when you’re all too aware that being successful in your applications will be hard. But you can’t apply to every firm, so at this stage you need to be selective in which firms you choose to research further.

Read the Oracle’s advice to find out if a career at a City law firm is for you.

As your research continues, being meticulous in your selection will allow you to narrow down an endless sea of potential firms to a list of more probable ‘right’ firms for you. Using a negative rather than a positive selection process will help you. This means ruling out the firms that you know aren’t right for you, so you’re left with the ones that are. This is often a far easier process than scouring firm directories for the single perfect one!

To make your researching experience less dauting, read this LCN guide that explains how you can use LawCareers.Net to improve your chances of securing your dream role in the industry.

Remain open minded

Finally, a note back to a point touched on earlier – there’s no such thing as the right firm. It may be that once you have your list of the ‘right’ firms that you have a favourite. But remember that your experience of the firms remains limited at this point, and your perception of them will likely change throughout the application process. Keep an open mind and know that any of the firms on this list could prove to be ‘right’ firm for you.

Bethany Barrett (she/her) is an LCN blogger, LPC student and future trainee solicitor at Addleshaw Goddard