Can you have a work/life balance as a commercial solicitor?

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anon5252
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Why did you choose to work in a commercial law firm and do you have a work/life balance?
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thornston
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because i like the non-contentious transactional aspect and not litigation - yes you can but have to put the hours in
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Johnny ~
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(Original post by anon5252)
Why did you choose to work in a commercial law firm and do you have a work/life balance?
It was just something that everyone was doing so I got sucked into the application cycle as well. I honestly don't think that most trainees at City firms developed a burning passion for it. There are some interesting aspects in the work but most of it is mundane at the junior end. Best case scenario for someone like me: you get given a substantive task that doesn't involve a checklist/liasing with 50 different parties and someone spends 5 minutes of their time explaining the background.

I started <2 months before lockdown so I haven't actually spent any real time in the office. Commuting to work seems exhausting after uni life but you just get used to being physically tired more of the time and get used to ingesting more coffee/<energy drink of choice> to make up for it. Not the end of the world. I'd say that most trainees I know (across a wide variety of MC, SC, US firms) will be leaving from 7 to 11+ pm. Whether that's a good work-life is up to you. It does leave some time for exercise or socialising in the events but there's obviously a lot of fluctuation so you can't plan things (not that I had the energy to do so during those 2 months). Working from home as a trainee in a quiet department is a joke, even at an MC firm. Consistent evening finishes, a fair amount of time for lunch breaks, checking my phone without anyone commenting, etc. But things will obviously have recovered sufficiently by the time you're working. A big thing to note is that solicitors work fairly hard throughout the entirety of the day (it's closer to management consulting than investment banking in this regard), so the days do feel longer and more exhausting, even if you're 'only' going to be working a 60 hour week all in (I put the 'only' in apostrophes because that's still a lot and definitely not to be underestimated). Realistically, if you're training in a good transactional practice, you're only going to get quality time for yourself on the weekends and the odd lucky evening when the work has calmed down. There's always time for life admin while in the office (e.g. while you're waiting for some documents to get back to you) but you're still going to be on call throughout.

Can't speak for associates; they look significantly more busy and stressed.
Last edited by Johnny ~; 1 week ago
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anon5252
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(Original post by Johnny ~)
It was just something that everyone was doing so I got sucked into the application cycle as well. I honestly don't think that most trainees at City firms developed a burning passion for it. There are some interesting aspects in the work but most of it is mundane at the junior end. Best case scenario for someone like me: you get given a substantive task that doesn't involve a checklist/liasing with 50 different parties and someone spends 5 minutes of their time explaining the background.

I started <2 months before lockdown so I haven't actually spent any real time in the office. Commuting to work seems exhausting after uni life but you just get used to being physically tired more of the time and get used to ingesting more coffee/<energy drink of choice> to make up for it. Not the end of the world. I'd say that most trainees I know (across a wide variety of MC, SC, US firms) will be leaving from 7 to 11+ pm. Whether that's a good work-life is up to you. It does leave some time for exercise or socialising in the events but there's obviously a lot of fluctuation so you can't plan things (not that I had the energy to do so during those 2 months). Working from home as a trainee in a quiet department is a joke, even at an MC firm. Consistent evening finishes, a fair amount of time for lunch breaks, checking my phone without anyone commenting, etc. But things will obviously have recovered sufficiently by the time you're working. A big thing to note is that solicitors work fairly hard throughout the entirety of the day (it's closer to management consulting than investment banking in this regard), so the days do feel longer and more exhausting, even if you're 'only' going to be working a 60 hour week all in (I put the 'only' in apostrophes because that's still a lot and definitely not to be underestimated). Realistically, if you're training in a good transactional practice, you're only going to get quality time for yourself on the weekends and the odd lucky evening when the work has calmed down. There's always time for life admin while in the office (e.g. while you're waiting for some documents to get back to you) but you're still going to be on call throughout.

Can't speak for associates; they look significantly more busy and stressed.
Thank you for this. I have been reading a lot about commercial law and I noticed that there are a lot of people applying for training contracts. Do you think it is because of the money? Do most trainees actually enjoy their job? I work excessively hard to do well for academics, however I also have experienced getting burnt out every year. Even though I love being busy and working hard, at the moment, I do not think commercial law is for me. I agree about the commute. Commuting in London seems time consuming. I heard about beds being at the MC law firms and that seems quite tough. I think that sleep is crucial. I also like to work in a separate environment and go home to relax.
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thornston
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it all depends on what you enjoy. I absolute hate advocacy and the whole litigation process with bundles and prelim hearings and all that jazz.
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