Quitting my Law Training Contract during my First Seat - Help! Watch

Solicon
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Hi everyone,

never thought I would be writing this but here it goes.

My law journey started at university where I got a 1st class in my LLB. I applied for vacation schemes (did ones at Pinsents, Addleshaws, and Slaughters). After this I then did the LPC where I got distinction and went on to secure a training contract at a regional office of a City firm.

When I got offered my TC I had several friends working in London at City firms telling me to NOT do it. I didn't listen and thought I had struck gold at securing a top firm but in the regions where I thought the culture would be friendlier. I was subjected to the usual "we are an open and approachable firm etc etc".

I have been at my firm for 8 weeks now and I absolutely hate every day. My seat is commercial real estate which is not the most interesting but the thing I hate the most is the people. Everyone is extremely unfriendly, nasty, stressed, and they enjoy treating their trainees like crap and using them as a source to vent their anger.

Should I quit? I really want to and cannot imagine staying at this firm for 2 years. It has totally turned me off a career in law (to be honest the job is boring and I don't want to do any of the work I see the senior associates slaving over). The culture is brutal and I am feeling severely depressed going to work every day. At first I was eager to learn but that was quickly whipped out of me.

I plan to quit at the end of December (after 4 months) if I find another job (I have rights to work abroad so would apply to jobs in my home country).

Anyone been through something similar/got any advice? Desperate here

Thanks.
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Solicon
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Edit: what alternative careers are there to someone with a law degree and post-graduate education?
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JohanGRK
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Finally, a juicy thread.

I can't think of a top firm that has a regional office that isn't full of paralegal/legal analyst slaves, so you may have sold yourself short and should be reapplying to better firms. Are you at BCLP or something?

Tagging some knowledgeable people who may be able to offer advice:
J-SP
jacketpotato
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s.m999
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what university did you get a LLB first from?
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J-SP
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Can’t really give any advice on this one.

OP seems to have made up their mind.

It happens from time to time.

Sounds like the self funded the LPC so won’t have to worry about paying back any fees/maintenance grant.

Only thing I can think to say is to not jump until you have something else lined up.
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J-SP
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(Original post by JohanGRK)
Finally, a juicy thread.

I can't think of a top firm that has a regional office that isn't full of paralegal/legal analyst slaves, so you may have sold yourself short and should be reapplying to better firms. Are you at BCLP or something?

Tagging some knowledgeable people who may be able to offer advice:
J-SP
jacketpotato
Started their TC. Has no chance of starting another one elsewhere unfortunately (not that they seem to actually want to do law anymore).
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_Fergo
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(Original post by Solicon)
Hi everyone,

never thought I would be writing this but here it goes.

My law journey started at university where I got a 1st class in my LLB. I applied for vacation schemes (did ones at Pinsents, Addleshaws, and Slaughters). After this I then did the LPC where I got distinction and went on to secure a training contract at a regional office of a City firm.

When I got offered my TC I had several friends working in London at City firms telling me to NOT do it. I didn't listen and thought I had struck gold at securing a top firm but in the regions where I thought the culture would be friendlier. I was subjected to the usual "we are an open and approachable firm etc etc".

I have been at my firm for 8 weeks now and I absolutely hate every day. My seat is commercial real estate which is not the most interesting but the thing I hate the most is the people. Everyone is extremely unfriendly, nasty, stressed, and they enjoy treating their trainees like crap and using them as a source to vent their anger.

Should I quit? I really want to and cannot imagine staying at this firm for 2 years. It has totally turned me off a career in law (to be honest the job is boring and I don't want to do any of the work I see the senior associates slaving over). The culture is brutal and I am feeling severely depressed going to work every day. At first I was eager to learn but that was quickly whipped out of me.

I plan to quit at the end of December (after 4 months) if I find another job (I have rights to work abroad so would apply to jobs in my home country).

Anyone been through something similar/got any advice? Desperate here

Thanks.
In all honesty, I would advise that you complete your training contract. It is 2 years that can define the rest of your life, and this bit is important - leaving now would leave you with practically nothing valuable, and you'd have to start over as a graduate but one who's quited another career and is not freshly out of university as many big employers want.

Conversely, finishing your training contract would mean you're a qualified solicitor, and many, many pathways will be open to you - you can move into a BIG4 firm, into financial services, into an investment fund and whatnot. These will be very competitive of course (much alike graduate schemes) but you'll be able to choose a myriad different pathways related to commercial law. If I were you, I'd carefully reconsider leaving.

These are my 2c.
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Solicon
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(Original post by _Fergo)
In all honesty, I would advise that you complete your training contract. It is 2 years that can define the rest of your life, and this bit is important - leaving now would leave you with practically nothing valuable, and you'd have to start over as a graduate but one who's quited another career and is not freshly out of university as many big employers want.

Conversely, finishing your training contract would mean you're a qualified solicitor, and many, many pathways will be open to you - you can move into a BIG4 firm, into financial services, into an investment fund and whatnot. These will be very competitive of course (much alike graduate schemes) but you'll be able to choose a myriad different pathways related to commercial law. If I were you, I'd carefully reconsider leaving.

These are my 2c.
Yeah 2 years of hell that I hate.

I am of course going to finish my first seat so I have 6 months experience but there is no way I can survive two years here. 2 years is a long time in your 20s to do something you hate. Making big £ is not my main priority.
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Solicon
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(Original post by J-SP)
Started their TC. Has no chance of starting another one elsewhere unfortunately (not that they seem to actually want to do law anymore).
You're right, I don't. But my firm did pay for my LPC as I had only started it recently when they offered me the TC. But there is nothing in the contract that mentions paying back the fees. Nothing at all.
(Original post by JohanGRK)
Finally, a juicy thread.

I can't think of a top firm that has a regional office that isn't full of paralegal/legal analyst slaves, so you may have sold yourself short and should be reapplying to better firms. Are you at BCLP or something?

Tagging some knowledgeable people who may be able to offer advice:
J-SP
jacketpotato
No. Think DLA/Pinsents... not going to say what Firm exactly in case someone reads this but it is awful.
Spoke to my friend the other day who trained at Norton Rose and all I was offered from him were his congragulations: nobody I know enjoys the TC, but my department are by far the most hostile and I leave every day feeling like I just got bullied.
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Solicon
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Really just want to hear from someone who has been through this same situation... feeling so alone here
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J-SP
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(Original post by Solicon)
Yeah 2 years of hell that I hate.

I am of course going to finish my first seat so I have 6 months experience but there is no way I can survive two years here. 2 years is a long time in your 20s to do something you hate. Making big £ is not my main priority.
Might want to speak to Perseverance on here - pretty sure they gave up their TC before the end of the first year.
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J-SP
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(Original post by Solicon)
No. Think DLA/Pinsents... not going to say what Firm exactly in case someone reads this but it is awful.
Spoke to my friend the other day who trained at Norton Rose and all I was offered from him were his congragulations: nobody I know enjoys the TC, but my department are by far the most hostile and I leave every day feeling like I just got bullied.
Triple check all your docs - the emails/correspondence when they paid back your fees. There could be something in there. Not all firms try to reclaim the money though - some will just write it off. Have known firms to reclaim it though - written pay back agreements to know it is possible.
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jacketpotato
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It is never nice to be in a situation like this. But I think you have to take a long term view. Look at this with a 10year or 20year horizon, not a 2year horizon.

The key question is do you want to qualify as a solicitor or not. I doubt any other firm will take you on if you quit a TC mid-way through.

If you do want to qualify as a solicitor, then I think you should slug it out. The reality is that 6months or even 2years is not a long period of time in the scheme of your overall career. It wouldn't be the end of the world to keep your head down, do a half-arsed job and move to a different firm or a different area of law or in-house after you have qualified.

You should also remember that different seats can be very different for all sorts of reasons. It is entirely possible that you might enjoy your next seat more than this one.

It is also worth remembering that you can absolutely come across unfriendly, nasty, stressed people who treat trainees badly in firms like Pinsents or Addleshaws or Slaughters. A lot of first seat trainees can get culture shock when they start proper work for the first time, I certainly suffered from that as a first seat trainee, but people do often adapt after a few months.

There is a lot of luck depending on which department you get and who is working in that department at that particular point in time. I felt badly treated in my first seat (a London firm similar to those) but ended up enjoying it and staying for a few years post-qualification, though in a different department !

That said - if you have decided that you are sure you no longer want to become a solicitor (whether at this firm or any other firm) - then I would ask why you are doing a TC in the first place, in which case there could be a benefit in starting your new career path sooner rather than sticking it out for no reason. Just make sure you check your contract to see if leaving the TC means you need to pay back things like LPC fees.
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Crazy Jamie
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I'm not a solicitor so cannot speak from experience on any of this, but the one point I would highlight is that for your second seat you will of course be around different people, will be doing different work, and will be in a different environment. You will, of course, still be in the same firm, and that may result in some or many of the problems still persisting. But a change of seat could equally solve a lot of these issues. If you're prepared to get to the end of this seat, I would at least give yourself a bit more time to see if the next seat is any different.
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TempestLaw
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Just finish it for now, it may be 2 years, but if you drop out now 10-20 years down the line it would have seemed like nothing to have completed it. Even if you change career, being nearly qualified as a solicitor and actually qualifying can make or break whether you go somewhere else
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J-SP
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The SQE could make qualifying later possible - it’s exceptionally difficult to change firms part way through a TC, you typically need approval from the SRA.

The new qualification process will mean you can gain experience over 4 organisations.

The only issue you have would be wAiting for the SQE.
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legaleagle2604
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I knew someone in a similar position who wanted to quit their TC in their first seat because the team was awful. They stayed for their seat rotation and found that the new department was 100x nicer and actually liked it, finished their TC and qualified.

I think you should just grit your teeth and get on with it until your next seat. If it’s still unbearably ****, then think about whether you should leave
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flatlined
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(Original post by Solicon)
Hi everyone,

never thought I would be writing this but here it goes.

My law journey started at university where I got a 1st class in my LLB. I applied for vacation schemes (did ones at Pinsents, Addleshaws, and Slaughters). After this I then did the LPC where I got distinction and went on to secure a training contract at a regional office of a City firm.

When I got offered my TC I had several friends working in London at City firms telling me to NOT do it. I didn't listen and thought I had struck gold at securing a top firm but in the regions where I thought the culture would be friendlier. I was subjected to the usual "we are an open and approachable firm etc etc".

I have been at my firm for 8 weeks now and I absolutely hate every day. My seat is commercial real estate which is not the most interesting but the thing I hate the most is the people. Everyone is extremely unfriendly, nasty, stressed, and they enjoy treating their trainees like crap and using them as a source to vent their anger.

Should I quit? I really want to and cannot imagine staying at this firm for 2 years. It has totally turned me off a career in law (to be honest the job is boring and I don't want to do any of the work I see the senior associates slaving over). The culture is brutal and I am feeling severely depressed going to work every day. At first I was eager to learn but that was quickly whipped out of me.

I plan to quit at the end of December (after 4 months) if I find another job (I have rights to work abroad so would apply to jobs in my home country).

Anyone been through something similar/got any advice? Desperate here

Thanks.
DO IT.

I'm an associate in a city firm. It's not uncommon for trainees to quit - you just don't hear about it. Along with the general attrition rate in law - i.e. the general turnover of associates in US firms is about 2-3 years. Usually they go in-house or move to a UK firm eventually. Statistically most people are out of big city firms by 3PQE. My firm and others have only a couple to a handful of their own ex-trainees still remaining as associates in the firm, and most are NQ- 1PQE.

So if you stay you could be prolonging the inevitable. Being a qualified lawyer doesn't help with any job except being a lawyer. Which sucks. And is the reason why people who have invested years into the process can't leave.

As you have noted from your regional firm, I can confirm for city law: everyone hates it and those who don't find it barely tolerable. The reason why most 5PQEs are in it still is some fleeting hope of partnership or golden handcuffs in a US firm where including bonus they're touching nearly 300k. But none of them are happy and that money is very, very short term before they have enough/burn out and take the paycut.

Legal work is awful and it doesn't get any better. Being a trainee is particularly crap and NQ-1PQE is really, really rough. As an NQ you just want to keep your job, hit your hours, build your reputation - like the crapness of being a trainee just intensifies and gets worse.

The work is really, really boring and there is no financial upside in your situation. You can do SO many jobs which pay better or just as well. You should never have taken the training contract at this regional hole, but at least you've learnt to deal with difficult situations and difficult people. I totally regret it.

Please go with your instinct and get out. As you know, as a student, you couldn't have seen quite how bad it was until you actually did it. The vacation schemes are all a lie. NOW RUN.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by flatlined)
DO IT.

I'm an associate in a city firm. It's not uncommon for trainees to quit - you just don't hear about it. Along with the general attrition rate in law - i.e. the general turnover of associates in US firms is about 2-3 years. Usually they go in-house or move to a UK firm eventually. Statistically most people are out of big city firms by 3PQE. My firm and others have only a couple to a handful of their own ex-trainees still remaining as associates in the firm, and most are NQ- 1PQE.

So if you stay you could be prolonging the inevitable. Being a qualified lawyer doesn't help with any job except being a lawyer. Which sucks. And is the reason why people who have invested years into the process can't leave.

As you have noted from your regional firm, I can confirm for city law: everyone hates it and those who don't find it barely tolerable. The reason why most 5PQEs are in it still is some fleeting hope of partnership or golden handcuffs in a US firm where including bonus they're touching nearly 300k. But none of them are happy and that money is very, very short term before they have enough/burn out and take the paycut.

Legal work is awful and it doesn't get any better. Being a trainee is particularly crap and NQ-1PQE is really, really rough. As an NQ you just want to keep your job, hit your hours, build your reputation - like the crapness of being a trainee just intensifies and gets worse.

The work is really, really boring and there is no financial upside in your situation. You can do SO many jobs which pay better or just as well. You should never have taken the training contract at this regional hole, but at least you've learnt to deal with difficult situations and difficult people. I totally regret it.

Please go with your instinct and get out. As you know, as a student, you couldn't have seen quite how bad it was until you actually did it. The vacation schemes are all a lie. NOW RUN.
I think you've got be sure of whether you've definitely made the decision that you don't want a career in the law, rather than currently hating your seat/firm. If the former (which your post indicates is the case), then there's little point in sitting it out waiting for the inevitable. But you've got be totally sure that it's the career as a concept that's the problem - I think thenceforth this makes your decision much easier.
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JohanGRK
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(Original post by flatlined)
Please go with your instinct and get out. As you know, as a student, you couldn't have seen quite how bad it was until you actually did it. The vacation schemes are all a lie. NOW RUN.
Hang on, so I don't get to sit around for 2 hours at lunch drinking iced lattes?

Seems like a cushy advisory seat in some behemoth might be for me
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