I am a member of Chadwick Nott’s South West & Wales team and we specialise in the recruitment of permanent qualified solicitors at all levels.
I have worked the South Wales market for over 20 years and have been on holiday there numerous times – most recently having spent a fantastic 2 weeks on the Gower Peninsula in August, taking advantage of the wonderful walks and beaches on offer. I am heading back to Gower this coming weekend, so I feel that I am well placed to talk about living, working, and moving to South Wales!
When I refer to the ‘South Wales legal market’, I must say that many of the law firms we work with are more often Cardiff or Newport based, but Swansea is a growing legal centre. Only this week, I was speaking to a recruitment partner at a boutique Swansea practice who are very much in growth mode, having recently recruited over seven lawyers across all commercial areas in the last 12 months. The pandemic has clearly had minimal effect on this business.
Within South Wales, there are a diverse range of law firms, such as Eversheds Sutherland (a top 20 UK and international law firm, with an exceptionally busy Cardiff office that boasts fantastic quality of work/clients), and many niche firms and high street practices. There are also lots of Legal 500 rated full-service firms of different shapes and sizes. At Chadwick Nott, we are always keen to assist both the law firms and lawyers across the entire region. We place a lot of commercial solicitors from Newport, Cardiff and Swansea, but enjoy setting up introductions for the firms in smaller towns including Bridgend and Abergavenny.
In Cardiff, Eversheds Sutherland is recognised as top tier across the board. There are also other well-known national and regional firms - Blake Morgan, Geldards and Hugh James - who are well established in the city. A more recent newcomer is HCR Hewitsons who joined the Cardiff market in 2020 and is very much on growth mode. These firms offer full-service expertise, great quality of work and, crucially for any job seekers, they can offer sufficient ‘space and headroom’ to allow ambitious lawyers to progress their career.
Boutique and niche law firms in the region include Acuity, Capital Law and Lewis Silkin, who offer a more focused practice in commercial, corporate, real estate and employment.
Why move to South Wales?
The work/life balance offered by law firms in the region is so frequently highlighted and this is for good reason. There is real quality of work and clients in many sectors at the likes of Eversheds and Blake Morgan, who are on national panels, as well as the boutique practices. But once you have finished your working day, there is so much on your doorstep.
For those keen on sports, there is of course rugby, rugby and more rugby at the fantastic Millennium Stadium, championship football in Swansea, as well as the Olympic canoe centre and a velodrome in Newport, the PADI diving centre near Chepstow, and of course championship golf at Caldicott Manor just north of Newport.
If you generally enjoy the outdoors and live in Cardiff, you can paddleboard or walk around Cardiff Bay or Penarth after work within 20 minutes of the office. If it is mountain biking or hiking you are after, then there are fantastic courses and climbs, and walks in easy reach of the South Wales coast, such as the Wye Valley (also great for climbing and kayaking), the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons. In my opinion, the Gower Peninsula deserves a special mention with some of best surf beaches in the UK. Rhossili beach has often been listed as one of the top 10 beaches in the world! There are great coves for canoeing, paddleboarding, sea swimming and wildlife watching. The Gower Ultrathon is held annually in October, for those who enjoy endurance events!
For those who are keen on culture, Cardiff is a capital city with all that has to offer including fantastic art galleries, theatre, top music venues, museums, restaurants, and great shopping centres. Abergavenny is a short drive north with a Michelin-starred restaurant and a real foodie town with a food festival each September. Usk was recently listed as one of the best places to live in Wales in The Sunday Times.
Importantly, South Wales offers an affordable quality of life. Whilst salaries are generally 5-10% lower than at some of the leading Bristol firms, housing costs are substantially less than Bristol across the water. And if you live and work in Cardiff, most places are 20-30 minutes’ walking or cycling distance from the city and its legal hub. Wales has its own education system, distinct from the rest of the UK, and Estyn– the body that maintains standards – has rated 77% of all schools as 'good' or 'excellent’. There is a good range of private and state schools, both primary and secondary, as well as an award-winning university.
The above is of course just a very small selection of law firms and lifestyle positives of living and working in Cardiff and across South Wales. But I strongly believe that whatever you are looking for, there is likely to be something for everyone, with fantastic quality of work on offer, without having to compromise on living your best life – whatever that entails.
In the current market, so many law firms in the region are actively recruiting and are offering competitive packages, and of course the option to work from home part or full-time.
We are working with a range of law firms in many disciplines, and we are instructed on roles including (but not limited to) the following areas: Commercial/Corporate, Real Estate, Construction, Banking and Commercial Litigation and Private Client. Exciting opportunities include: -
- Top 50 Law Firm Real Estate Associate/Senior Associate
- Top 50 Firm -Senior Associate + Planning
- Award winning firm – corporate/commercial Associate
- Top Tier Firm Construction Partner
Chadwick Nott also offers other services including specialist paralegal, interim and in-house recruitment.
Please contact Sarah Wood to discuss current opportunities in the South Wales legal market.
DDL: 0117 917 1859