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From small firm to big firm. Consequences? Need help!

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    I've currently graduated this year with a 2:1 LLB. I'm currently doing a 6 month internship (unpaid) with a joint legal team for 3 local authorities. I've spent 3 months in litigation, and my final 3 months will be in commercial contracts. I'm basically doing paralegal/trainee types of work. Drafting my own legal advice, shadowing meetings, amending contracts etc. In litigation there was generally a lot of bundle work and attending courts. With the commercial team, I will get given my own cases which is usually unheard of for someone who is unpaid and an intern.

    A very experienced lawyer (used to work for Clifford Chance) told me that if my aim is to get into a big city firm, I should not apply to very small or smaller high street type of firms because then it will become almost impossible to make it into a larger firm. I should add that I am also interested in working in house for large banks.

    His reasoning was that the big city firms and financial institutions would rather have somebody who has helped close multi million pound deals compared with work that's done in the high street. I kind of see where he's coming from when he says this, considering that a couple of the previous interns have gone on to work for Clifford Chance and Barclays.

    I have someone I know who is pushing me to work as a paralegal (paid) at their firm but the firm is small. Probably has about 10 employees. I'm afraid that if I take the offer then working at bigger firms may not be possible, or at least extremely diffiuclt. So my question is, is this true? Was the solicitor right in saying that it becomes difficult to break into a big firm if I have been in a small/high street type? Should I take the offer, or keep applying and wait for something bigger?
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    (Original post by CH7)
    I've currently graduated this year with a 2:1 LLB. I'm currently doing a 6 month internship (unpaid) with a joint legal team for 3 local authorities. I've spent 3 months in litigation, and my final 3 months will be in commercial contracts. I'm basically doing paralegal/trainee types of work. Drafting my own legal advice, shadowing meetings, amending contracts etc. In litigation there was generally a lot of bundle work and attending courts. With the commercial team, I will get given my own cases which is usually unheard of for someone who is unpaid and an intern.

    A very experienced lawyer (used to work for Clifford Chance) told me that if my aim is to get into a big city firm, I should not apply to very small or smaller high street type of firms because then it will become almost impossible to make it into a larger firm. I should add that I am also interested in working in house for large banks.

    His reasoning was that the big city firms and financial institutions would rather have somebody who has helped close multi million pound deals compared with work that's done in the high street. I kind of see where he's coming from when he says this, considering that a couple of the previous interns have gone on to work for Clifford Chance and Barclays.

    I have someone I know who is pushing me to work as a paralegal (paid) at their firm but the firm is small. Probably has about 10 employees. I'm afraid that if I take the offer then working at bigger firms may not be possible, or at least extremely diffiuclt. So my question is, is this true? Was the solicitor right in saying that it becomes difficult to break into a big firm if I have been in a small/high street type? Should I take the offer, or keep applying and wait for something bigger?
    What you do as a paralegal is not really relevant to where you might get a training contract. You are likely to get a greater breadth of paralegalling experience in a small firm than in a conveyancing or PI factory.

    What the person to whom you spoke means is that if you do a training contract in a High Street firm or even a provincial commercial firm, it is almost impossible to join a large City corporate firm. The types of work they do are wholly different.
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    I almost agree with this guy. Even working for a local authority isn't great. I interned at one for 3 months and found the work is really nothing like that carried out in a city law firm. A small commercial firm would be best, a high street with specialises in stuff like family law is a bad idea though. Gaining experience is good but it would be best if you could find legal work in a bigger firm... I would keep applying and find something else. Take my advice with a pinch of salt though, I'm sure there are others who know more about this than I do.

    I have been told twice by city lawyers that if my aim is to get into a city law firm I should avoid working for high street firms first.
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    High street to City probably isn't possible. I do however know quite a few who have moved from regional to City firms on qualification or in the first few years of their career.
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    (Original post by CH7)
    I've currently graduated this year with a 2:1 LLB. I'm currently doing a 6 month internship (unpaid) with a joint legal team for 3 local authorities. I've spent 3 months in litigation, and my final 3 months will be in commercial contracts. I'm basically doing paralegal/trainee types of work. Drafting my own legal advice, shadowing meetings, amending contracts etc. In litigation there was generally a lot of bundle work and attending courts. With the commercial team, I will get given my own cases which is usually unheard of for someone who is unpaid and an intern.

    A very experienced lawyer (used to work for Clifford Chance) told me that if my aim is to get into a big city firm, I should not apply to very small or smaller high street type of firms because then it will become almost impossible to make it into a larger firm. I should add that I am also interested in working in house for large banks.

    His reasoning was that the big city firms and financial institutions would rather have somebody who has helped close multi million pound deals compared with work that's done in the high street. I kind of see where he's coming from when he says this, considering that a couple of the previous interns have gone on to work for Clifford Chance and Barclays.

    I have someone I know who is pushing me to work as a paralegal (paid) at their firm but the firm is small. Probably has about 10 employees. I'm afraid that if I take the offer then working at bigger firms may not be possible, or at least extremely diffiuclt. So my question is, is this true? Was the solicitor right in saying that it becomes difficult to break into a big firm if I have been in a small/high street type? Should I take the offer, or keep applying and wait for something bigger?
    Urgh, gross. Don't be a solicitor. Fight for the winning team. Be a barrister
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    The difficulty with paralegal work with most of the larger commercial firms is that they will have a strong preference for those who have completed the LPC.

    You could take the paid placement you mentioned and then look for ways to get exposure to larger/commercial firms or in-house legal teams, whether it's formal vacation scheme programmes this winter, informal work experience or even workshops. You should also think about how you can work on your commercial awareness outside of work experience.

    It will be better to have legal work experience of any kind than none at all - so prior to a TC I don't see it as much as an issue as other have suggested. There will be plenty of recent grads like you who don't have this experience on their CV.


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