Career in Law or Civil Service??Watch this thread
I have always had aspirations of becoming a solicitor. I like the idea of the prestige and of course the salary!
In 2018, after years of being out of work whilst raising my children (and studying) I started working as a part time receptionist at a local high street solicitors and after 12 months was promoted to a legal assistant. My current salary is £18K. The firm have always been very supportive of my desire to progress and become a solicitor and in January this year I spoke with the Senior Partner about a training contract. At the time he said that he would be happy to give me a 2 year training contract that could potentially start when I start my LPC this September so they could run along side each other. My salary as a trainee would increase to £19,995 (minimum trainee solicitor salary). At the end of my training contract the starting salary for a qualified solicitor will be £30K. The firm always retain there trainees once qualified.
Due to COVID-19, I was furloughed in a April for 3 months. Many other assistants in the firm were also furloughed. I have only just returned to work this week. My team manager has now indicated that it would not be wise for me to approach the partner again just yet about a training contract given the uncertainty of everything due to COVID-19. So I’m now uncertain as to when (if ever) I will get my training contract. Bearing in mind my age....time is not on my side and I am keen to qualify ASAP.
Rewind to just before I started as a legal assistant........., I applied for a Civil Service Job in the Home Office. I passed all the interview hurdles and was offered the job but placed on a 12 month reserve list. I forgot all about it after a while.
I have now been contacted by the Civil Service and offered a start date of Oct. The starting salary is £24k as an EO with a maximum salary of £27k. The role itself looks so very interesting. I know I would enjoy the responsibility that comes with the role. I’ve always liked idea of a job for life with great benefits (pension, flexi working etc) too.
So my dilemma.....do I continue my career path as a solicitor? Bearing in mind I have to continue with 2 more years of study (plus £8k of additional student debt) and remain on a poor salary of £18k without the guarantee of a Trsining contract or even if I do get a training contract I’m still only earning £19,900 for two years. But knowing that when I do qualify I will be guaranteed a £30k salary with a probable earning potential of £35-40k after 5 years qualified.
Or do I......completely change careers to work for the civil service with an immediate significant salary increase, no more studying or uni debt and with great benefits. But risking a stagnant salary due to slow (or no!) career progression meaning I could still be stuck on £24 in two years. On the other hand if I did progress my salary could reach £30-40k anyway!
Can anybody offer me any advice.....or perhaps a crystal ball!! 😂
You could have the best of both worlds
The type of work I do now as a legal assistant is likely to be the area of law I end up in for the rest of my career. As it’s a small high street firm it’s unlikely they will put me in different departments whilst doing my training contract. Simply because they will require me to stay in my current department for business needs.
The department I am in is Private Client (Wills & Probate). Whilst I do enjoy the work and certainly prefer it over other areas I could have ended up in its not my preferred area of law. I always wanted to work in Family Law as I want to help vulnerable people and deal with real social issues. (My passion for that even had me considering Social Work at one point!)
So the role in the Civil Service is more aligned with my passion as it provides the opportunity to manage my own casework and make decisions on Asylum applications. I really think I would enjoy the role.
I think either decision has an element of risk. I may get stuck at £24k in the civil service or I may not ever get my training contract in my current firm. Or at least not for a long time and in the meantime I am working in an area of law I’m not overly passionate about, earning a low wage and still studying! 😩
Probably too late to chip in but I would say civil service.
Once you pass probation you'll be able to transfer to other available roles at the same level. You could transfer into the courts and gain experience that way while doing your LPC. Once you've completed it you could go back to a private firm for a training contract or stay civil as a trainee legal advisor or even apply for the CPS's trainee scheme.