I'm a bit ignorant about the whole area of law in the City. I seem to read everywhere that a training contract at the Magic Circle is an amazing thing to have. However, in reality is it that much better than say a TC at Herbert Smith or Hogan Lovells? For instance, post qualification, is it really easier to move jobs with CC or A&O on your CV than HS? Also is the training that much better? Everyone seems to work roughly the same hours, so I can't really see the difference!!
From my view on the outside, it seems that if you get a TC at any City firm, that's going to stand one in good stead?
This isn't a message from a bitter rejected MC wannabe, I'm just trying to see whether I should aim for the MC when I start my applications next year, or just the City in general. Any insight to how a MC TC is REALLY perceived would be great!
Thanks in advance.
Interesting question and one that only people post TC can probably answer.
I suspect that the difference between MC and Herbies is probably not that great in terms of "quality of work" (Herbies arguably better if you are interested in litigation), although there will be a bigger gap between MC and Lovells.
An MC TC is likely to make life easier for headhunters to secure you interviews at other firms if you decide to move on, particularly if you are interested in US firms. The same would apply if you want to move client-side.
At the end of the day though, I imagine the difference is probably similar to that between Oxbridge and other top unis i.e. largely a reputational effect. MC firms are more prestigious and therefore attract more of the most highly qualified candidates. Whether that makes them better lawyers is hard to say. The intakes are bigger, which might mean more structured training but less exposure/responsibility (that was certainly the main differentiator between the MC and top US firms as I understood it).
I don't think there is any difference tbh. It kind of depends on department as well. Herbies is seen as the most pretigiuous litigation firm; A&O the most prestigious finance firm, though I doubt it makes much difference for trainees. Herbies and Lovells people certainly train with Slaughters, A&O and Freshfields for networking purposes, which is deliberately as S/A/F could run their own LPC if they wanted. I think the work is quite similar.
There would be more of a difference between MC firms and "smaller" firms like MacFarlanes and Travers Smith, though the quality of work at the latter is very good as well.
I think it is almost impossible to answer. Probably only a recruitment consultant in a pub and not looking for a fee could do so. The danger of an answer from any solicitor is that it degenerates into "my career is better than your career". I don't practice in the city but I do and have employed ex-city including ex-MC trainees.
The first benefit is short term financial. MC firms pay well and they give full financial support during law school. For students with debt, that is significant.
Longer term, MC pay levels are on average higher than elsewhere except some US firms which have tended to redress their lack of UK profile with money. I say on average. There will be higher earners elsewhere, particularly in city boutiques that hardly get a mention on here.
Reputationally, I am not convinced there is any major difference between the reputation of ex-MC trainees and those in other large city firms, possibly with exception of Slaughters who are still seen as a breed apart.
Two things that rarely get a mention on here are that success in the law is about career progression and the appalling high wastage rates of trainees in MC and other large city firms. When I have engaged in this discussion there has been the assumption that large city firm and particularly MC trainees that are not taken on simply move elsewhere with no disruption to career progression. That isn't true. There is a large body of city trained lawyers whose careers simply mark time. If a lawyer's ambition is to become a partner in a profitable firm, these people are off that track. There are also a large number of people who qualify and solicitors in the city and then move on to other things. Many of them are not 40 something career changers but people who drift away from the law a year or two after qualification.
Occasionally people post that they have got MC training contracts and hope to work in an MC firm but don't think they will make partner. There are two answers to that. How on earth can you judge? If you can judge, what on earth are you doing accepting that training contract? Find a firm where you think you will make a partner and train with them. The highest chance of obtaining a partnership is with the firm where you train.
I a not really in a position to judge quality of training. It used to be reckoned to be poor in the MC but I think that has been redressed in the last 15 years or so. Also, changes in other types of firm have made an impact here. The only common criticism of the training that an outsider sees now is that as draftsmen they are over-reliant on precedent banks produced by PSLs.
There was a point when a city trained lawyer was virtually unemployable elsewhere. They had lost the skills of a general practitioner whereas law firms elsewhere had retained those skills and needed them. I don't mean that commercial lawyers were going down the Mags, but rather the same lawyer was dealing with the corporate, employment, property and tax aspects of a deal. That had gone from the city but was the norm elsewhere. That is no longer true. Except in the smallest firms the rest of the profession has followed a trend towards specialisation.
Ａｓ ｏｔｈｅｒ ｐｏｓｔｅｒｓ ｈａｖｅ ｓａｉｄ， ｉｔ ｉ ｓ ａ ｖｅｒｙ ｄｉｆｆｉｃｕｌｔ ｑｕｅｓｔｉｏｎ ｔｏ ａ ｎｓｗｅｒ ｗｉｔｈｏｕｔ ｅｘｐｅｒｉｅｎｃｅ． Ｈｏｗｅｖｅ ｒ， ｙｏｕ ｃｏｕｌｄ ｇｅｎｅｒａｌｌｙ ｓａｙ ｔｈａｔ ｙｏｕｒ ｅｘｐｅｒｉｅｎｃｅ ａｔ ａ ｍａｇｉｃ ｃｉｒｃｌ ｅ ｆｉｒｍ ｗｏｕｌｄ ｎｏｔ ｂｅ ｔｏｏ ｄｒａｓｔｉｃａ ｌｌｙ ｄｉｆｆｅｒｅｎｔ ｆｒｏｍ ａｔ Ｈｅｒｂｅｒｔ Ｓｍ ｉｔｈ ｏｒ Ｈｏｇａｎ Ｌｏｖｅｌｌｓ． Ｓｉｍｉｌａｒｌｙ ｉｆ ｙｏｕ ｃｈｏｓｅ ｔｏ ｍｏｖｅ ｏｎ ｑｕａｌｉｆｉｃ ａｔｉｏｎ， ｔｈｅ ｍａｇｉｃ ｃｉｒｃｌｅ ｆｉｒｍｓ ｍａ ｙ ｇｉｖｅ ｙｏｕ ａ ｓｍａｌｌ ｅｄｇｅ ｂｕｔ ＨＳ ａ ｎｄ ＨＬ ａｒｅ ｈａｒｄｌｙ ｇｏｉｎｇ ｔｏ ｄａｍａｇｅ ｙｏｕｒ ｐｒｏｓｐｅｃｔｓ ａｎｄ ｉｎｄｅｅｄ ｗｉｌｌ ｐｒｏｂａｂｌｙ ｇｅｔ ｙｏｕ ｆａｒ．
Ｔｈｅｒｅ ｗｏｕｌｄ， ｈｏｗｅｖｅｒ， ｂｅ ａ ｇｒｅａｔ ｅｒ ｄｉｆｆｅｒｅｎｃｅ ｂｅｔｗｅｅｎ ｔｒａｉｎｉｎｇ ａ ｔ ａ ｍａｇｉｃ ｃｉｒｃｌｅ ｆｉｒｍ ａｎｄ， ｓａｙ， ＣＭＳ、ＳＪ Ｂｅｒｗｉｎ ａｎｄ Ｔａｙｌｏｒ Ｗｅｓｓｉｎｇ ．
HS do have the most prestigious litigation department, but this often causes a lot of people to overlook their corporate practice (which is the largest area of the firm). Over the last six to twelve months especially, they've regularly featured on the £ bn deals alongside the MC firms. The only issue with HS might be that their brand isn't as global. But as for a City training, there really isn't a great difference between HS and the MC firms (and Hogan Lovells are much the same in truth).
My firm aren't keen on MC newly qualifieds as they often have had less experience in comparison to other NQ's from non-MC firms. xx
It was certainly the case when I was a NQ, and I wouldn't limit the criticism to MC firms. The same criticism could be levelled at many of the larger firms (as NT suggests). I qualified into litigation and much of my time was limited to painful discovery reviews, bundling etc. By contrast, a peer of mine at a small firm in Kent was regularly running his own small contentious matters, including undertaking low level advocacy. A couple of years down the track I was entrusted with drafting correspondence (woohoo) whilst he was running larger matters including some trial advocacy.
First hand experience of large, exciting, cutting edge cases/transactions doesn't necessarily translate into fabulous training for junior lawyers.