Not all law jobs are the same and being a solicitor at one type of law firm could be very different to being a solicitor at another. Here we outline the main different types of law firm that there are to help you get a clearer picture of the industry and perhaps clarify your thoughts on future career plans.
Magic Circle law firms
Magic Circle firms are London’s top five law firms. These firms are seen as the most prestigious and consistently have the highest pay for lawyers and partners.
Currently the Magic Circle law firms are:
• Clifford Chance
• Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
• Allen & Overy
• Slaughter and May
Clearly competition is fierce for jobs and training places at these CV-boosting firms, and many clearly feel that the potentially long hours and hectic pace are worth it for the money, the prestige and the challenge.
Large commercial law firms
Most of the biggest commercial law firms are in London and many are on a par with the Magic Circle firms in terms of size and turnover. These firms often deal primarily with financial and corporate work and jobs at these firms will usually be paid at an above-average rate.
These mid-sized firms should not be looked down upon because of their size by any means. Many are the leaders within a particular industry or sector of law, although most do offer a full service practice. Pay is competitive at these firms and lawyers there can look forward to working on high-quality projects.
Regional firms can typically offer lower rates than London firms because of their locations and many compete extremely well with comparable London firms. Many regional firms work with high-profile clients and a few work on international cases too.
The pay may not be up to London standards, but this is balanced with a lower cost of living outside the capital and these firms can offer the best deal in terms of work-life balance.