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

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EU Yakov
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#81
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#81
(Original post by TheMandalorian)
Commercial/city law firms have an incredibly toxic culture where people will happily throw you under the bus to get a promotion. The long hours and very corporate nature of city firms is not for everyone. But not all of the legal sector is like that. Regional firms and boutique law firms have a far friendlier culture compared to large city firms. Maybe go for a boutique law firm in the area of law you are interested in. Then you won’t have to go through seats you hate. You could also do some outreach like work. I know someone who works in criminal law for a charity that supports victims of sexual assault and rape. The pay is a lot less than city law firms but in return you feel like you are helping people rather than simply making money for a business.

Plus, you are less likely to meet toxic colleagues in these environments because most people in these charity sectors are passionate about the cause.
are you a partner at one of these firms ...? or rather a student who's talking based on their viewing of Suits? (suspect the latter)

I do find it hilarious when people divide firms on the basis of commercial/west end/regional/boutique. such a childish delineation

lawyers don't get 'promotions' until several years PQE

senior associates everywhere will be like sharks in a tank... partnership isn't less valuable because you 'only' stand to make partner at BLM instead of Allen & Overy... a 10-15 PQE everywhere will be salivating at the prospect of the sweet equity

charity law is practised by plenty of large firms that also have commercial practices (Farrers, Withers) ... you don't need to be a saint to represent a charity

as a paralegal i worked with teams that only had a couple associates on the deal. even if associates are like sharks, they are not really given the opportunity to interact with their direct competition in the same department or even team - each probably has a partner with whom they're especially close and who will champion them if they get on well.. it's just how the hierarchy works

the idea that a 'friendly' culture can be generalised across a firm is obviously very silly - firms are made up of people, different people have different personalities, the type of firm you work for and the messages from management can only determine the 'culture' so far
Last edited by EU Yakov; 1 year ago
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TheMandalorian
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#82
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#82
(Original post by EU Yakov)
are you a partner at one of these firms ...? or rather a student who's talking based on their viewing of Suits? (suspect the latter)

I do find it hilarious when people divide firms on the basis of commercial/west end/regional/boutique. such a childish delineation

lawyers don't get 'promotions' until several years PQE

senior associates everywhere will be like sharks in a tank... partnership isn't less valuable because you 'only' stand to make partner at BLM instead of Allen & Overy... a 10-15 PQE everywhere will be salivating at the prospect of the sweet equity

charity law is practised by plenty of large firms that also have commercial practices (Farrers, Withers) ... you don't need to be a saint to represent a charity

as a paralegal i worked with teams that only had a couple associates on the deal. even if associates are like sharks, they are not really given the opportunity to interact with their direct competition in the same department or even team - each probably has a partner with whom they're especially close and who will champion them if they get on well.. it's just how the hierarchy works

the idea that a 'friendly' culture can be generalised across a firm is obviously very silly - firms are made up of people, different people have different personalities, the type of firm you work for and the messages from management can only determine the 'culture' so far
No I am not a student and I have never seen an episode of Suits in my life. I have worked in further education for two years, worked as a careers advisor to students interested in law and volunteered as a legal secretary with a ngo whilst studying for my legal secretaries diploma. I’ve also received career coaching from a coach who worked as a recruiter for top city law firms as well. I think it’s more childish to resort to ad hominem attacks and make assumptions about people you know nothing about. Quite worrying for someone working in the legal sector. One of the most important qualities for anyone wanting to work in law is to not be judgemental and actually listen to others.

The user was expressing that they were currently unhappy with their training contract and wanted to leave the legal sector completely. I was simply offering what I hoped was comforting advice in that the user doesn’t have to leave the legal sector completely and can still find a workplace that they will feel happy in. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big commercial city law firm was all I was saying.

Rather than making snide comments to me you could have given the user some helpful advice. I hope you don’t display this snobby attitude to clients.
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EU Yakov
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#83
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#83
(Original post by TheMandalorian)
No I am not a student and I have never seen an episode of Suits in my life. I have worked in further education for two years, worked as a careers advisor to students interested in law and volunteered as a legal secretary with a ngo whilst studying for my legal secretaries diploma. I’ve also received career coaching from a coach who worked as a recruiter for top city law firms as well. I think it’s more childish to resort to ad hominem attacks and make assumptions about people you know nothing about. Quite worrying for someone working in the legal sector. One of the most important qualities for anyone wanting to work in law is to not be judgemental and actually listen to others.

The user was expressing that they were currently unhappy with their training contract and wanted to leave the legal sector completely. I was simply offering what I hoped was comforting advice in that the user doesn’t have to leave the legal sector completely and can still find a workplace that they will feel happy in. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big commercial city law firm was all I was saying.

Rather than making snide comments to me you could have given the user some helpful advice. I hope you don’t display this snobby attitude to clients.
Honestly, what I'm hearing is 'I'm not a paralegal, trainee or associate and I'm coming with things out of my arse'. Also may the Lord help us if you're the one giving people advice! No wonder why students go into university so uninformed (my sixth form careers advisor was equally bad if it helps)

My post gave the OP more actual inside information from someone who worked at the lowest level of an actual big law firm than most of the other posts on this thread. You seem to conflate being called out on factual inaccuracies with someone being judgmental against you... not the same

OP's made their decision, the user you replied to doesn't need to be told that 'some law firms will be better' if they get butterflies every time their inbox notifs flare up... they might need some counselling or a sit-down with family or friends
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TheMandalorian
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#84
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#84
(Original post by EU Yakov)
Honestly, what I'm hearing is 'I'm not a paralegal, trainee or associate and I'm coming with things out of my arse'. Also may the Lord help us if you're the one giving people advice! No wonder why students go into university so uninformed (my sixth form careers advisor was equally bad if it helps)

My post gave the OP more actual inside information from someone who worked at the lowest level of an actual big law firm than most of the other posts on this thread. You seem to conflate being called out on factual inaccuracies with someone being judgmental against you... not the same

OP's made their decision, the user you replied to doesn't need to be told that 'some law firms will be better' if they get butterflies every time their inbox notifs flare up... they might need some counselling or a sit-down with family or friends
I am a qualified legal secretary. Maybe you might look down on such a job but solicitors would not be able to function without us and neither would paralegals tbh. My experiences of working in law is just as valid as yours. So, lose the snobby attitude.

I suppose you just want everyone to say they are wrong and you are some all knowing person who knows everything. I am not going to kiss your ass just because you are a paralegal and work in a higher position than I do within the legal sector.

Sorry if I was trying to be empathetic to that user and not an ass. I know what it’s like having to deal with bad colleagues and a toxic work environment. The user even said they suffer from anxiety and stress now which clearly indicates that they are not happy working in such an environment.

Just because you’ve worked in a city law firm and it’s worked well for you that doesn’t mean it will be the same situation for everyone else.

Mental health and happiness should come first before a job and if that user isn’t happy working in a city law firm then they should be able to look for other alternatives where they won’t have to leave the legal sector.

This conversation is over. It’s far too much effort to deal with snobby negative people.
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jacketpotato
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#85
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#85
Perhaps this is flogging a dead horse, but personally I would view a decent legal secretary as having a more senior and valuable role than a paralegal in your average city law firm.

For the record:
- TheMandalorian is completely correct to point out that mid-size and boutique city law firms tend to have a much friendlier culture than some of the largest city law firms. A lot of associates move from the very large firms to that sort of firm for exactly that reason.

- A number of the large city law firms and some of the US firms do have a toxic macho / old boys' club culture in certain departments, and a very toxic attitude to work/life balance. Not all firms have this, and in larger firms it will vary massively from department to department.

- Traditionally, most firms gave people titles like "Senior Associate" automatically when you reached a certain PQE. These days a lot of firms, including some of the Magic Circle, are trying to make a bit more of a song and dance about it, and treating it as a bit more of a promotion process, where not everybody necessarily gets promoted at the same time. Likewise a lot of the larger firms have moved away from a pure lockstep/PQE model of compensating their associates towards a more discretionary model.
Last edited by jacketpotato; 11 months ago
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EU Yakov
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#86
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#86
(Original post by jacketpotato)
Perhaps this is flogging a dead horse, but personally I would view a decent legal secretary as having a more senior and valuable role than a paralegal in your average city law firm.

For the record:
- TheMandalorian is completely correct to point out that mid-size and boutique city law firms tend to have a much friendlier culture than some of the largest city law firms. A lot of associates move from the very large firms to that sort of firm for exactly that reason.

- A number of the large city law firms and some of the US firms do have a toxic macho / old boys' club culture in certain departments, and a very toxic attitude to work/life balance. Not all firms have this, and in larger firms it will vary massively from department to department.

- Traditionally, most firms gave people titles like "Senior Associate" automatically when you reached a certain PQE. These days a lot of firms, including some of the Magic Circle, are trying to make a bit more of a song and dance about it, and treating it as a bit more of a promotion process, where not everybody necessarily gets promoted at the same time. Likewise a lot of the larger firms have moved away from a pure lockstep/PQE model of compensating their associates towards a more discretionary model.
and yet the legal secretary is still chatting gibberish... which makes you wonder whether appeals to 'value' matter, really

i know a fairly number of smaller and boutique firms with nasty reputations, either because i know paralegals there or worked with people who made off hand comments about them. the low profitability + lack of stable clients + tone from the top really can swing a firm or department either way. slater & gordon, irwin mitchell and the other bucket shops (thank you ROF for this phrase) are notoriously bad for this

[maybe this is just me being influenced from the people i know as someone who worked in a large firm with the reputation of being 'nice' (which makes everyone else look 'mean' by comparison), but then again this can be said for everyone's perspective here]

several years PQE is when lockstep ends at most 'top' firms, and when discussions about partnership are made. of counsel obviously happens later on but some firms do have 'director' positions that seem to be of counsel-lite? so it's fair to say that 'promotions' tend to happen even if it's a dead cert for many people who go through it. i wasn't specifically referring to senior/managing associates btw

point about departments is what i was getting at, and i wouldn't even say departments, 'teams' might be more representative of how day to day work
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jacketpotato
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#87
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#87
Mandalorian was not chattering gibberish, her comments were completely spot on - at least from where I stand, and I have worked in more than one city firm.
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Solicon
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#88
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#88
(Original post by EU Yakov)
are you a partner at one of these firms ...? or rather a student who's talking based on their viewing of Suits? (suspect the latter)

I do find it hilarious when people divide firms on the basis of commercial/west end/regional/boutique. such a childish delineation

lawyers don't get 'promotions' until several years PQE

senior associates everywhere will be like sharks in a tank... partnership isn't less valuable because you 'only' stand to make partner at BLM instead of Allen & Overy... a 10-15 PQE everywhere will be salivating at the prospect of the sweet equity

charity law is practised by plenty of large firms that also have commercial practices (Farrers, Withers) ... you don't need to be a saint to represent a charity

as a paralegal i worked with teams that only had a couple associates on the deal. even if associates are like sharks, they are not really given the opportunity to interact with their direct competition in the same department or even team - each probably has a partner with whom they're especially close and who will champion them if they get on well.. it's just how the hierarchy works

the idea that a 'friendly' culture can be generalised across a firm is obviously very silly - firms are made up of people, different people have different personalities, the type of firm you work for and the messages from management can only determine the 'culture' so far
I agree. Regional firms, from my friends' experiences, have the same potential as being just as bad as City firms. Toxic traits can also fluctuate between departments as you have rightly pointed out.

I will also say to any students reading this, don't let your university peers pressure you into applying for top law firms. There is a lot of snobbery and pretentiousness around who gets TCs at "bigger firms". The only friend I know who is happy in his job is at a small high street firm, and is also one of the few I know who is being kept on as an NQT.
Last edited by Solicon; 11 months ago
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Xarao
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(Original post by Solicon)
I agree. Regional firms, from my friends' experiences, have the same potential as being just as bad as City firms. Toxic traits can also fluctuate between departments as you have rightly pointed out.

I will also say to any students reading this, don't let your university peers pressure you into applying for top law firms. There is a lot of snobbery and pretentiousness around who gets TCs at "bigger firms". The only friend I know who is happy in his job is at a small high street firm, and is also one of the few I know who is being kept on as an NQT.
What did you decide to do in the end?
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Solicon
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#90
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(Original post by Xarao)
What did you decide to do in the end?
I left. A lot of people I know who have just finished their TCs aren't being kept on either due to the current economic conditions, so I feel happy in my decision. Much happier and I do not miss legal practice whatsoever.
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Xarao
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(Original post by Solicon)
I left. A lot of people I know who have just finished their TCs aren't being kept on either due to the current economic conditions, so I feel happy in my decision. Much happier and I do not miss legal practice whatsoever.
IMO, the right choice. Good on you man, your well-being is far more important.
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koala-t16
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#92
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#92
(Original post by Solicon)
Hi there, OP here

Definitely try your second seat. That's what I did. I actually enjoyed my second seat until I left, but that was basically because my mind was already made up beyond the point of no return, and I didn't want a career in law whatsoever anymore. But you will gain experience and skills from your second seat even if you do decide to leave

I didn't have to repay any of my LPC contributions, which was a big factor in me leaving! I think if I did have to repay, I'm not sure what I what have done, although I won't go down hypothetical routes. Let us all know how you're doing in your new seat
Thanks OP, it's been a year and just over 3 months since I started my TC so long overdue an update. But the main thing I want to say is: I can't believe how different things are now! That being said, my second seat was quite stressful and involved many a crying episode, but working from home did help a little. For my current seat (third seat in IP) I ended up doing a secondment for three months which I absolutely LOVED. Being on secondment gave me the break from my environtment that I needed and hugely increased my confidence in myself and made me believe that I'm not as thick as I once believed myself to be (!).

So whilte my first year wasn't great - seat one was traumatising and seat two was very tough because I was in a small department doing largely associate level work - I am so so glad that I stuck it out and went on secondment for my third seat because it has honestly made all the difference. I am in a much better place mentally, I know what works best for me and when to spot early on that I need help and not be afraid to reach out. Now that I'm back at the firm I am in a department which really values its trainees and treats us with respect, and the people around you really do make the experience great or horrible. So to anyone who is also considering quitting, as someone who was in that same place in my first seat: stick it out, learn what your working style is, check in with yourself mentally and do your best to build on your confidence, and maybe consider taking 'break' from your firm by going on secondment if they offer one
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Nature2021
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#93
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#93
Hi,

It has been over a year now. I was wondering if you have moved to another firm.I really hate my training at a snall law firm as my supervisor yells at me and speaks loudly infront of everyone. I hate it and I will confront him one day. I am not tolerating his rude behaviour towards me. I really wish i didnt do law as the pay isnt even so competitive as a trainee plus the work that I have to do. I really hate it and my supervisor leaves everything to the last minute. I am thinking of working until I move abroad by the end of the year. Thats it for me! It is very stressful and horrific. Escp when you around toxic people and team members who try and get on to your nerves.
Last edited by Nature2021; 5 months ago
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Solicon
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#94
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#94
(Original post by Nature2021)
Hi,

It has been over a year now. I was wondering if you have moved to another firm.I really hate my training at a snall law firm as my supervisor yells at me and speaks loudly infront of everyone. I hate it and I will confront him one day. I am not tolerating his rude behaviour towards me. I really wish i didnt do law as the pay isnt even so competitive as a trainee plus the work that I have to do. I really hate it and my supervisor leaves everything to the last minute. I am thinking of working until I move abroad by the end of the year. Thats it for me! It is very stressful and horrific. Escp when you around toxic people and team members who try and get on to your nerves.
Hey. Unsure whether this question was for me (I'm the OP) but I quit law and never went back. Rarely think of the profession anymore.

Yeah, pay is bad considering the hours, sacrifice and stress. Brighter things are waiting for you in the future <3
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The West Wing
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#95
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Have a read of this thread on ROF:

https://www.rollonfriday.com/discussion/mid-life-crisis
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