Conversation between colleagues

Why joining a city law firm doesn't mean ditching your wellies

So you've decided you want to pursue a career in law? Ambitious? Driven? Surely that means London is the only place to be? Think again.

Coming from Exeter, I am south west born and bred and although I crossed the border to study Psychology at Cardiff University, I've never really strayed too far from this part of the world.

It was only towards the end of my undergraduate degree that I made the decision to apply for the GDL and become a solicitor. As a ‘country girl’ I battled with the idea of giving up the west country lifestyle, but along with most of my peers, off I went grabbing every law firm prospectus at each law fair I attended, making half-hearted attempts at engaging with London firms and London life. I thought that must be where the best firms are, with the best work and because everyone should at least try and apply to London – right? Wrong.

The more time I spent looking at the bigger city firms I knew something wasn’t right and I hadn’t even attempted any applications yet. I realised that although I was passionate about become a solicitor and working at a commercial firm, I couldn’t face spending the next ten years in the crowds of London.

It was at that point I stopped fighting with what I thought I ‘should be doing’ and scrapped any flagship London-based research. I began the application process targeting the south west. My view towards applications became immediately more sincere, focused and driven. Following several rounds of applications and interviews in 2012 I was lucky enough to be offered vacation scheme opportunities with firms in Bristol and elsewhere in the south west. After spending my summer with these different firms I knew I had found my ‘bubble’ with TLT.  I realised I didn’t have to make a choice between where I wanted to live and the chance to do great quality work.

During my vacation scheme with TLT, it was clear that they were able to offer high profile work with a ‘city firm’ feel but within my home region. From day one, the firm felt immediately personable and approachable.

Now that I am almost at the end of my training contract I have not looked back. From day one it was apparent that TLT is a unified firm, with teams working collaboratively across all offices. Trainees get exposure to amazing clients and big deals without having to live the London life if it's not what you're looking for. I have had great experiences assisting colleagues in the London, Belfast and Manchester offices on large commercial deals whilst being able to live in a place where I'm comfortable.

With a 15 minute walk to work and the beach and countryside less than 30 minutes away, Bristol was the place for me, but TLT also offers training contracts in Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast (and for those who thrive on the buzz of the capital city – there is always the London office!)

My message is this… think outside the box and don’t be pressured into only applying for training contracts with the big London firms because you feel you ought to. If it’s not for you, the chances are it will show in your applications and the time and effort you spend may well be better placed elsewhere. 

It's important to consider where you would like to be based as the chances are you will be spending several years there. You will likely settle quicker and get the very most out of your training contract.