The State of the Family Law Market for NQ Solicitors in Manchester

Posted on 18/4/2018 by Paula Pawlowska

As we spoke about in a previous blog, if you’re a trainee solicitor, the months leading up to your qualification date can be stressful. This is especially true if you’re not clear about which area of the law you would most like to qualify in. However, if you’ve long had your heart set a particular specialism, you can immediately be more focused in your job search.

Whether or not you’re planning on staying at your current firm post-qualification, it is always helpful to be informed about the state of the market. Enlisting the help of a specialist recruiter who has a good understanding of the legal niche in which you hope to qualify can help you in this respect, enabling you to be strategic in your NQ job hunt.

At Realm, I work exclusively within the Family law market, matching talented Family lawyers (and aspiring lawyers) with Family teams across Manchester, the wider North West and the West Midlands.   

If you are planning to qualify into Family Law and are hoping to find an NQ position in Manchester or Cheshire, it’s a very exciting time for Family Solicitors. Not only are there a number of newly-established practices, such as McAlister Family Law, shaking up this buoyant area of the regional legal market, but several national firms are seeing the value in growing their Family departments and, within this remit, are looking to take on junior solicitors.

Across the board, law firms are moving to establish themselves either as specialist practices, offering a very specific legal service or are branching out into a diverse range of areas, so that they can meet the varying needs of their clients. Reflecting this trend, family law teams in Manchester and Cheshire tend to fall into one of two categories: boutique niche practices and departments within national full-service law firms.

Specialist family boutiques

After London, Manchester’s booming economy and the affluence of its surrounding areas have led to the region emerging as the UK’s second biggest family law hub.

A handful of relatively young boutique family firms are very prominent within the market, with Manchester-based Hall Brown and Cheshire-based Maguire Family Law arguably leading the pack. Hall Brown was recently crowned Family Team of the Year at the prestigious Manchester Legal Awards, while Maguire has already made a series of hires this year as part of its ongoing expansion.

McAlister Family Law, set up at the end of last year, has also revealed itself as a force to be reckoned. Equally, the Manchester office of Celebrity Divorce Specialists Vardags, which north-shored at the end of 2015, has continued to go from strength to strength.  

National heavyweights

A number of Manchester’s full-service firms have set about expanding their family teams in 2018 with some, including Irwin Mitchell and Weightmans, moving into new city centre offices to accommodate this growth.

Clarke Wilmott has established a family presence in Manchester, following the firm’s appointment of a new family law partner, Chris Longbottom, who joined the firm in January from Shoosmiths.

In perhaps the most significant development within the regional legal market this year, next month, DWF’s entire family team will be making the move to JMW, to create the largest family team in the North West. 

Want to know how we can help you find the Family Solicitor role you’ve been looking for?

Whether you’d prefer to work at a smaller family law boutique or are more suited to the culture of a larger firm, there is an abundance of exciting opportunities for aspiring family lawyers in Manchester and Cheshire.  At the moment, I’m seeing a range of different junior solicitor roles in Family departments across Manchester and Cheshire, from NQ level, up to 2-3 years PQE.

If you are approaching qualification or have recently qualified and are looking to begin your career as a Family Solicitor, feel free to get in touch for a confidential chat about your circumstances. Call Paula on 03300 245 606 or email

The State of the Family Law Market for NQ Solicitors in Manchester


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