Throughout much of 2020 and now 2021, we’ve all been dealing with widespread restrictions to our normal lives.
Limited opportunity for travel, holidays, social events and family gatherings, ongoing disruption to schooling and a blurring of the boundaries between home and work has made the last 12 months a year like no other.
Many of us have been forced to step back from the breakneck pace of our “normal” lives and have begun to assess what is really important to us. As the Covid-19 pandemic has forced a reset of how people live their lives, how well does our work fit with our personal lives and passions?
One of the more positive trends we have witnessed throughout this period has been how many firms in the Midlands have recognised that attitudes are changing. This is being reflected in the way firms look to attract and retain the best candidates across what is becoming an increasingly strong and busy market. In particular, many of the top regional firms have sought to hire lawyers from London who want to escape the City and perhaps strike a better and more permanent balance between home and work.
So what are the key benefits of making a move to a top Midlands firm and why now?
1. Better work/life balance
Even with the increased opportunities (obligation?) to work from home, twelve-hour plus days and lost weekends are often the norm for striving lawyers at top London firms, or even those just trying to keep up. It wouldn’t be true or fair to say that lawyers outside the capital don't work hard, but we find that lawyers working in the regions are generally away before 6:30-7pm and don’t work whole weekends. Added to which, your commute is likely to be both shorter and far less stressful.
2. Cheaper housing and cost of living
Online commentary suggests that the average London house costs £490,936, which is double the average price in the rest of the UK (£245,443). Admittedly, that’s an average over the whole country and the main cities in which the best “regional” firms are located will be more expensive.
Generally speaking, living outside London is cheaper. According to cost of living comparison website Expatistan.com, London is 49% more expensive to live in than Manchester, for example. In other regions, the differential will be greater still and even taking salary differences into account, you may well be better off outside London. Coupled with this, you tend to get a lot more for your money in terms of green space or square footage.
3. Better supervision and greater responsibility
We frequently hear from solicitors who have trained outside London that they are given a lot of responsibility at an earlier stage and often receive more hands-on supervision and client contact than their London counterparts. The main reason cited is that deals tend to be smaller and partners are under less constant pressure. In this new landscape, agile regional firms are delivering excellent remote support and supervision through face-to-face video interaction (both individual and collective) and better IT infrastructure including the rise in popularity of platforms like Zoom and MS Teams.
4. Improved working environment
In light of the pandemic and its after effects, the jury is probably out on how office space will be utilised in the future, although it’s widely acknowledged that the vast majority of firms will retain reasonable office space and see the value of doing this, not least to help preserve the sense of community, identity and culture within a firm. Property is much cheaper outside London and often this translates into larger, more spacious offices but without compromising on the migration towards an agile work force, switching between home and the office.
Plus, the working environment can often be more relaxed. For example, in a number of firms, we are seeing that individual fee-earner chargeable hour targets are being dropped in favour of a more collegiate, team-based approach. There is also a sense of your work playing an important role in the local community.
5. Quality of work
A wealth of high-profile and headline-grabbing legal work is being done outside London, and many firms in the East and West Midlands undertake work of the highest quality for top blue chip clients. A proportion of this work is drawn from London or internationally. In regional and national firms, being challenged technically, working with interesting, top drawer clients, developing your profile and fulfilling your career ambitions doesn’t need to be at the cost of pursuing life affirming commitments/interests outside of work. That ideal balance can be struck.
At Chadwick Nott, we have strong, long-standing relationships with law firms across the West and East Midlands, East Anglia and Northern Home Counties markets, from international firms and national heavyweights to mid-market regional firms and smaller boutique practices.
We use our extensive connections to make sure you have access to the best opportunities - whether you are a junior lawyer or mid-level associate or a more experienced senior lawyer or partner.
You'll find that many firms in the regions can offer an excellent platform to manage your life outside of work in a sensible way whilst also being fully engaged on high quality, cutting-edge work and having genuine scope to progress your career - whatever your aspirations might be.
Please get in touch for a confidential discussion about your future plans, whether it is in view of an imminent move, or perhaps in anticipation of something further down the line.
Telephone: 0121 200 5571
Mobile: 07468 700558