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    There is a lot of information geared towards students interested in commercial law with city firms, even by our university's law society.

    So I was wondering if anyone could kindly provide some tips as to how to get into high-street firms. I have some questions below, but if there is anything else relevant, or any good sites etc, please do add them here.

    1) Can/do you only work in one field in a high-street firm? Because I have a particular interest in family law, maybe criminal but I am not too fond of other areas.

    2) What is the procedure? When to start applying?

    3) I'm worried because high-street firms tend to be pretty small and close-knit and due to this, I have heard that they are more likely to employ people who they know i.e. relatives, friends, employees who have worked there for ages, instead of taking interest in random applications.

    Thank you very much!
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    Also, the most important question of all: is it wise to want to work at a high-street law firm at this time?

    I hear the market is pretty bad because of legal aid cuts. Is it wise to spend all that money on an LPC and study modules (Equity, Property) that I don't even enjoy, only to face a small chance of getting a job? I don't mind the pay.

    I need advice :/
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    (Original post by Yazooo)
    There is a lot of information geared towards students interested in commercial law with city firms, even by our university's law society.

    So I was wondering if anyone could kindly provide some tips as to how to get into high-street firms. I have some questions below, but if there is anything else relevant, or any good sites etc, please do add them here.

    1) Can/do you only work in one field in a high-street firm? Because I have a particular interest in family law, maybe criminal but I am not too fond of other areas.

    2) What is the procedure? When to start applying?

    3) I'm worried because high-street firms tend to be pretty small and close-knit and due to this, I have heard that they are more likely to employ people who they know i.e. relatives, friends, employees who have worked there for ages, instead of taking interest in random applications.

    Thank you very much!

    (Original post by Yazooo)
    Also, the most important question of all: is it wise to want to work at a high-street law firm at this time?

    I hear the market is pretty bad because of legal aid cuts. Is it wise to spend all that money on an LPC and study modules (Equity, Property) that I don't even enjoy, only to face a small chance of getting a job? I don't mind the pay.

    I need advice :/
    First of all there is a huge difference in the scale of the firms we are talking about from fewer than 10 souls to several hundred and a firm with 250 people isn't going to be like a firm with 8.

    Like everyone else you will be expected to cover at least three areas of law in a training contract. The smaller the firm the more likely you are to cover more areas of work but most firms with 10+ fee earners will have most of those fee earners working in a single area of law.

    You start applying at the same time as those seeking magic circle training contracts but you continue applying until the day a TC lands in your lap. Some firms will recruit on the same schedule as corporate firms. Others will want someone able to start in less than a month. Fancy online forms are a rarity. If you know of a vacancy, you phone up HR/senior partner's secretary or whoever and ask for a form which will either be emailed or sent hard copy. Some firms will ask for a CV and covering letter. Otherwise you cold call to try and find a vacancy.

    There will be as many different recruiting practices as there are firms. The key things that are common are that firms will expect a commitment to the type of work they do and firms may expect a commitment to the locality. Trainees have not been cheap labour for many years (though this may change) so most firms that recruit want someone who will make their career there.

    Your guess is as good as mine over the future shape of the legal profession. The number of High Street training contracts has fallen because of the recession and the cessation of a scheme by which the Legal Services Commission paid for trainees. However they still represent a significant proportion of all contracts.
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    (Original post by Yazooo)
    1) Can/do you only work in one field in a high-street firm? Because I have a particular interest in family law, maybe criminal but I am not too fond of other areas.

    2) What is the procedure? When to start applying?

    3) I'm worried because high-street firms tend to be pretty small and close-knit and due to this, I have heard that they are more likely to employ people who they know i.e. relatives, friends, employees who have worked there for ages, instead of taking interest in random applications.
    []
    Also, the most important question of all: is it wise to want to work at a high-street law firm at this time?

    I hear the market is pretty bad because of legal aid cuts. Is it wise to spend all that money on an LPC and study modules (Equity, Property) that I don't even enjoy, only to face a small chance of getting a job? I don't mind the pay.
    1. All trainees must train in at least 3 different areas of law during their TC, including contentious and non-contentious work. 4 areas is common. Once qualified, most solicitors do specialise, but there are still a lot of high street solicitors that practice in a variety of areas (like a GP of the law world). There's never a guarantee that you'll be able to walk straight into a NQ role in your preferred area on qualification, but you may well change your mind once you've studied/worked in an area.

    2. It all depends on the firm, but smaller firms are more likely to ask for CVs and covering letters.

    3. That is true of a lot of small firms. Taking on a trainee is a big commitment for a small firm as they don't want to invest time and money into someone who isn't really right for them. My own firm doesn't take on external applicants as trainees and people with connections to the Partners are a lot more likely to get work experience with us. But speculative applications are probably more likely to get you work at a small firm than at larger firms with formal applications procedures. I got several paralegal interviews while I was applying for high street TCs and in the end it was working as a paralegal that got me a TC.

    4. Life is certainly tough for the smaller high street firms at the moment and a lot have been merging with larger firms to survive. No-one can say for sure what will happen in the future. You have to decide whether you're happy to spend time, effort and money on the LPC without a guarantee of a job at the end of it.
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    (Original post by Yazooo)
    There is a lot of information geared towards students interested in commercial law with city firms, even by our university's law society.

    So I was wondering if anyone could kindly provide some tips as to how to get into high-street firms. I have some questions below, but if there is anything else relevant, or any good sites etc, please do add them here.

    1) Can/do you only work in one field in a high-street firm? Because I have a particular interest in family law, maybe criminal but I am not too fond of other areas.

    2) What is the procedure? When to start applying?

    3) I'm worried because high-street firms tend to be pretty small and close-knit and due to this, I have heard that they are more likely to employ people who they know i.e. relatives, friends, employees who have worked there for ages, instead of taking interest in random applications.

    Thank you very much!

    1) Depends on the firm. If it is a 'one man band' then no, you'd be expected to do a bit of everything. If it is fairly large, e.g has four offices in the area then yes, you tend to have one doing criminal etc, though they do overlap. As Family is quite niche, I'd expect you would have to do something else.

    2 & 3) Yeah, you're right- it tends to be who you know. Best way to get in is to either a) go on work experience with a firm or b) get a secretary job with them e.g over the summer. Then they get to know you, and if you're any good they'll take you on.

    Failing that, the successful ones I've heard of have literally created a letter for each firm (unique to them- takes time, I know) and deliver it to the offices. You may hear nothing back- but you just MAY be the lucky one.

    Lastly, it's right to be sceptical about High Street firms.
    1. There are legal aid cuts this month, thus there is instantly less work out there for solicitors.
    2. Some companies e.g Co-op are going into the law, which will bite into High Street firms again.

    So it'll be a tough old place in the next few years- but there are opportunities.
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    Im a family lawyer. Our last trainee had been clerking for us and was offered a TC. This is very usual. We are not taking trainees for the forseeable future as due to the legal aid cuts 75% of family law work has gone. In family law generally it is mainly legal aid or a few very well off clients who go to court as privately paying clients just cant afford it. You therefore need to look for a high net worth or largly care firm for a TC although given 75% of the work has gone 75% of those already qualified will no longer be needed, but that doesnt nescessarly rule out taking on trainees as cheap labour. Thus you should approach family firms with a view to clerking or long term work experience and hope they are looking to recruit.
 
 
 
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