Law work-life balance Watch

grungelife
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I’m a couple of months away from applying to university. Initially, I was going to study criminology but I read that the job options were not great, so I decided to look into law.

But it is clear that lawyers work a lot and work-life balance is important for me, to spend with family mostly. I understand that sometimes you have to work late, and I am willing to work hard and have occasional late nights, but I don’t want to be doing that every single day.

Are there any law careers that don’t require a lot of work? Typically a 9-6 schedule?

Do you know any law firms offering this? (Preferably in Liverpool-Chester but if not I don’t mind), but still with decent pay? At least 40-50k.

Please help me, I do not know what to study and I’m close to deadlines
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JohnHen
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(Original post by grungelife)
I’m a couple of months away from applying to university. Initially, I was going to study criminology but I read that the job options were not great, so I decided to look into law.

But it is clear that lawyers work a lot and work-life balance is important for me, to spend with family mostly. I understand that sometimes you have to work late, and I am willing to work hard and have occasional late nights, but I don’t want to be doing that every single day.

Are there any law careers that don’t require a lot of work? Typically a 9-6 schedule?

Do you know any law firms offering this? (Preferably in Liverpool-Chester but if not I don’t mind), but still with decent pay? At least 40-50k.

Please help me, I do not know what to study and I’m close to deadlines
Morning,

I am a qualified solicitor and I manage a team of lawyers.

I typically work 8.30 to 5.30, monday to friday.

In terms of remuneration, do not expect to fall into a solicitors role and earn 40/50k, without a number of years post qualification experience.

It is not unusual for a trainee solicitor to earn something in the high teens and remain in the low 20 bracket until they have sufficient experience of what they are doing. It is also highly competitive and there is no shortage of graduates and cilex fellows, to warrant the fairly uncompetitive pay.

In terms of other options, a number of colleagues have left the law, but they did so by obtaining further qualifications, in addition to the usual LLB and LPC.

While there are other options, such as non law graduate schemes, you will need to convince prospective employers that your LLB degree has some relevance or benefit to their business. In my experience a Law degree is quite area specific. That said I know of people in banking, logistics and teaching with an LLB and LPC qualification, who do not practice law.

Make a choice that fits you. If you think a law degree will guarantee you a champagne lifestyle, it is more than likely going to disappoint you.

Good luck.
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workinglawyer
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Lol decent salary of at least £40-50k for a career that '[doesn't] require a lot of work'.

There seems to be a disconnect between reality and your expectations.

Here are the facts. You are unlikely to earn £40-50k as a junior employee in the regions. The law firms which offer that kind of salary at the NQ level in the regions are highly sought after and competition is stiff. The long and short of it is that there are insufficient training contracts available. Many law graduates will end up finding employment in much smaller outfits where salaries are correspondingly much lower – I think JohnHen was speaking from this perspective in his post.

To further add on to what he said, if you think working as a lawyer means living a glamorous or prestigious life while maintaining an excellent work-life balance, disabuse yourself of that notion immediately. As a junior employee in a law firm, you will do mainly paper pushing and an assortment of brainless administrative tasks. You will also have to deal with unreasonable deadlines set by unreasonable clients. Your mileage will vary across firms. In the bigger firms, you will have to stay until the wee hours of the morning (or even pull all-nighters) on bad days, but of course you will also have good days where you can leave the office at 5:30-6. You may also be called upon to work during weekends and public holidays. If you refuse to put in the work and/or the hours when there is a need to do so, expect to be asked to leave at some point.

I would suggest that you figure out your reasons for wanting to study law. Do you think that you'll actually enjoy the study and practice of law? If it's purely for the salary, do note that many who join solely for the salary end up leaving the profession within 3 years post-qualification.
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JohanGRK
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There's some data on the typical hours of sols at commercial firms online.

The general principle is that you're trading your leisure time for money.

(Original post by grungelife)
Do you know any law firms offering this? (Preferably in Liverpool-Chester but if not I don’t mind), but still with decent pay? At least 40-50k.
I'd look at some of the better commercial regional firms (say, Osborne Clarke's Reading office or Burges Salmon's Bristol office)

In-house lawyers at top banks etc. also make decent wedge, but they'll likely have several years' of private practice at the top commercial law firms under their belt.
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LpoolLawStudent
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I'm based in Liverpool (although at University of York), I'm aiming to work in Liverpool or Manchester. There are plenty of firms up here which have a great work/life balance. Even the bigger firms with international offices like DLA Piper and DWF aren't too bad, you're talking 9-6.30/7. But firms like Mills & Reeve, Brabners, Shoosmiths, Weightmans and Ward Hadaway all prize themselves on the work/life balance of its employees. All those firms pay £40k+ post qualification.

On a side note, the legal sector in Liverpool is really starting to take off now. Taylor Wessing opened an office here last year, and CMS have opened an office here this year. Plus a lot of civil service jobs have been planned to be moved here.
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LpoolLawStudent
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(Original post by workinglawyer)
Lol decent salary of at least £40-50k for a career that '[doesn't] require a lot of work'.

There seems to be a disconnect between reality and your expectations.

Here are the facts. You are unlikely to earn £40-50k as a junior employee in the regions. The law firms which offer that kind of salary at the NQ level in the regions are highly sought after and competition is stiff. The long and short of it is that there are insufficient training contracts available. Many law graduates will end up finding employment in much smaller outfits where salaries are correspondingly much lower – I think JohnHen was speaking from this perspective in his post.

To further add on to what he said, if you think working as a lawyer means living a glamorous or prestigious life while maintaining an excellent work-life balance, disabuse yourself of that notion immediately. As a junior employee in a law firm, you will do mainly paper pushing and an assortment of brainless administrative tasks. You will also have to deal with unreasonable deadlines set by unreasonable clients. Your mileage will vary across firms. In the bigger firms, you will have to stay until the wee hours of the morning (or even pull all-nighters) on bad days, but of course you will also have good days where you can leave the office at 5:30-6. You may also be called upon to work during weekends and public holidays. If you refuse to put in the work and/or the hours when there is a need to do so, expect to be asked to leave at some point.

I would suggest that you figure out your reasons for wanting to study law. Do you think that you'll actually enjoy the study and practice of law? If it's purely for the salary, do note that many who join solely for the salary end up leaving the profession within 3 years post-qualification.
I think you misread (or simply misquoted). They never said they didn't want to work hard, they said they didn't want to work "a lot", referring to the amount of hours worked.
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JohanGRK
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(Original post by LpoolLawStudent)
I think you misread (or simply misquoted). They never said they didn't want to work hard, they said they didn't want to work "a lot", referring to the amount of hours worked.
Whether OP is willing to work 'hard' (they better be) is irrelevant - what the poster is saying is that the OP should be prepared to work antisocial hours and long hours at short notice if the client requires it
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LpoolLawStudent
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(Original post by JohanGRK)
Whether OP is willing to work 'hard' (they better be) is irrelevant - what the poster is saying is that the OP should be prepared to work antisocial hours and long hours at short notice if the client requires it
Which the OP said he/she would when required, permitting that it isn't the "norm". And it isn't in a lot of regional offices/firms.
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JohanGRK
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(Original post by LpoolLawStudent)
And it isn't in a lot of regional offices/firms.
Sounds like someone's drunk the kool-aid

f
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LpoolLawStudent
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(Original post by JohanGRK)
Sounds like someone's drunk the kool-aid

f
Or just that someone just knows people who work in firms here.
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JohanGRK
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(Original post by LpoolLawStudent)
Or just that someone just knows people who work in firms here.
So do I (and I've read plenty of stuff on RoF), and the impression I'm getting is that workload is department-depending and that your average e.g. corporate gimp will get beasted. The fundamentals aren't that different.
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LpoolLawStudent
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(Original post by JohanGRK)
So do I (and I've read plenty of stuff on RoF), and the impression I'm getting is that workload is department-depending and that your average e.g. corporate gimp will get beasted. The fundamentals aren't that different.
On a day to day basis?
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JohanGRK
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(Original post by LpoolLawStudent)
On a day to day basis?
Not sure what you mean by this. What I meant is that stuff like tight deadlines, lots of unexpected tasks popping up last minute, overly demanding clients who think that they're paying you far too much, etc. are inherent in transactional practice no matter where you do it.

I guess that what makes regional firms better on average is that they don't have enough clients/work to bury people under, and the fact that they have simply never offered many of the soul-crushing/crap/miserable teams that work people around the clock (think structured finance, ECM, big ticket PE, that sort of thing).
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LpoolLawStudent
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(Original post by JohanGRK)
Not sure what you mean by this. What I meant is that stuff like tight deadlines, lots of unexpected tasks popping up last minute, overly demanding clients who think that they're paying you far too much, etc. are inherent in transactional practice no matter where you do it.

I guess that what makes regional firms better on average is that they don't have enough clients/work to bury people under, and the fact that they have simply never offered many of the soul-crushing/crap/miserable teams that work people around the clock (think structured finance, ECM, big ticket PE, that sort of thing).
I'm not going to get bogged into an argument with you. I'm not saying anything that you've said isn't true. What I am saying is that the people who I know personally who work in firms in Liverpool and Manchester have a pretty good work/life balance. They work hard, and occasionally they have weeks where, if they have particularly big deals or a rush of work, they are in the office until later on in an evening. Or they will take work home with them. But nobody I know works beyond 9am-6:30/7pm on routine basis.
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workinglawyer
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(Original post by LpoolLawStudent)
I think you misread (or simply misquoted). They never said they didn't want to work hard, they said they didn't want to work "a lot", referring to the amount of hours worked.
Ironic, because it is you who misread. If you had actually read my post without indignation, you would have understood that I was referring to the amount of hours worked. See the entire 4th paragraph.

It also seems that you have assumed (wrongly) that working hard means that you don't have to put in the hours. The nature of practice wherever you go is that you will have to work on short notice for clients who impose unreasonable deadlines. Even if a deadline is known in advance, if the deal is closing in the morning, do you really think you can avoid working the night before or even the weekend before? In this respect, the difference between working in the City and working in the regions is one of extent.

You've not said anything different (and in fact, agreed with this) in substance, so I find your defensiveness rather curious.
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LpoolLawStudent
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(Original post by workinglawyer)
Ironic, because it is you who misread. If you had actually read my post without indignation, you would have understood that I was referring to the amount of hours worked. See the entire 4th paragraph.

It also seems that you have assumed (wrongly) that working hard means that you don't have to put in the hours. The nature of practice wherever you go is that you will have to work on short notice for clients who impose unreasonable deadlines. Even if a deadline is known in advance, if the deal is closing in the morning, do you really think you can avoid working the night before or even the weekend before? In this respect, the difference between working in the City and working in the regions is one of extent.

You've not said anything different (and in fact, agreed with this) in substance, so I find your defensiveness rather curious.
As you say, I just misunderstood what you were saying. In my defence, that first line wasn't quoted properly and read (to me, anyway) as though you'd gotten the wrong end of the stick. Obviously I agree with the sentiment that you will be required to work hard. I've acknowledged in my other post that work hours can vary depending on business and deadlines. Again, the OP explicitly says they are happy to work hard and to stay late when required, providing that the overall work/life balance is good.

Going back to the OP, you don't need to study law to practice law down the line. So if you aren't sure about a career in law, just pick a subject at University you will enjoy and do well in. When you're there, you can join the law society and attend insight events, open days and apply for work experience to see how you find it.
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workinglawyer
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(Original post by LpoolLawStudent)
As you say, I just misunderstood what you were saying. In my defence, that first line wasn't quoted properly and read (to me, anyway) as though you'd gotten the wrong end of the stick. Obviously I agree with the sentiment that you will be required to work hard. I've acknowledged in my other post that work hours can vary depending on business and deadlines. Again, the OP explicitly says they are happy to work hard and to stay late when required, providing that the overall work/life balance is good.

Going back to the OP, you don't need to study law to practice law down the line. So if you aren't sure about a career in law, just pick a subject at University you will enjoy and do well in. When you're there, you can join the law society and attend insight events, open days and apply for work experience to see how you find it.
Fair enough. We do not disagree then.

As a final comment, I will only say that I’ve heard enough people going ‘yeah, I can handle the hours and I can definitely work hard!’ (obviously trying to impress), only to realise when they actually start practice that what they really want and need is the steady 9-5 job with no unexpected late nights and/or burnt weekends. That’s why I caution all aspiring lawyers to really figure for themselves whether the practice of law is for them *before* they start incurring unnecessary debt.
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LpoolLawStudent
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(Original post by workinglawyer)
Fair enough. We do not disagree then.

As a final comment, I will only say that I’ve heard enough people going ‘yeah, I can handle the hours and I can definitely work hard!’ (obviously trying to impress), only to realise when they actually start practice that what they really want and need is the steady 9-5 job with no unexpected late nights and/or burnt weekends. That’s why I caution all aspiring lawyers to really figure for themselves whether the practice of law is for them *before* they start incurring unnecessary debt.
Assuming that the OP isn't a mature student, that they are 17/18, they probably wouldn't really have much of a gage on how hard they are able/willing to work yet. I certainly didn't at that age. But I do appreciate that it's wise to warn students what they are potentially getting themselves into!
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jacketpotato
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Mostly it is only corporate law firms in central London where people work more than 9-6 on a regular basis.

I can't imagine that solicitors outside London are regularly doing hideous hours. Solicitors at most firms in London don't do it either.

Most of the chat on this forum is about the "Magic Circle" and "top US" firms, where the hours are hideous but the pay is great. That is not reflective of the majority, particularly outside London.

But another key point is that, particularly outside London, you may need to spend a few years as a paralegal before you get a training contract. That obviously adds to the number of years you'd be doing on low pay before you would achieve anything like £40-50k.
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grungelife
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(Original post by JohnHen)
Morning,

I am a qualified solicitor and I manage a team of lawyers.

I typically work 8.30 to 5.30, monday to friday.

In terms of remuneration, do not expect to fall into a solicitors role and earn 40/50k, without a number of years post qualification experience.

It is not unusual for a trainee solicitor to earn something in the high teens and remain in the low 20 bracket until they have sufficient experience of what they are doing. It is also highly competitive and there is no shortage of graduates and cilex fellows, to warrant the fairly uncompetitive pay.

In terms of other options, a number of colleagues have left the law, but they did so by obtaining further qualifications, in addition to the usual LLB and LPC.

While there are other options, such as non law graduate schemes, you will need to convince prospective employers that your LLB degree has some relevance or benefit to their business. In my experience a Law degree is quite area specific. That said I know of people in banking, logistics and teaching with an LLB and LPC qualification, who do not practice law.

Make a choice that fits you. If you think a law degree will guarantee you a champagne lifestyle, it is more than likely going to disappoint you.

Good luck.
Hello

Thank you for your answer, of course a graduate wouldn’t be getting a high salary from the beginning. I meant in general, because I wouldn’t mind trading the salary for more leisure time.
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