26/6/2017 by Katherine Memery
More and more lawyers are considering moving to another city to secure their next move. In particular, City lawyers are increasingly realising the appeal of Northern Powerhouse cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds and packing in the rat-race for a more attractive work-life balance.
However, the decision to up sticks and move to another part of the country should never be taken lightly, especially if you have a family to consider. The process of relocating requires a huge amount of consideration and, logistically, a great deal of planning. Not only will you need to ensure that the new area has the right schools, housing and amenities but crucially, you’ll have to make sure that you’ll be able to do the kind of legal work you want to do in your chosen location.
Reasons for relocation
From family reasons to simply a desire for a change in lifestyle, there are a number of things that might lead to a lawyer choosing to relocate.
Primarily, lawyers are driven to move to a new city because of personal circumstances. Either they’d like to move back to where they grew up to be closer to their friends and family, or they’re moving because their partner or spouse has found a new opportunity.
If you’re looking for a new job because of the latter, the idea of moving to a new city where you have little to no connections can be extremely daunting. It is in these instances where the help of a specialist legal recruitment consultancy with an in-depth knowledge of the regional market, is particularly useful. An experienced legal recruiter will be able to put you in touch with key contacts within the area, inform you of any potential openings.
Some solicitors simply decide they’ve had enough of long hours and gruelling commutes and make the choice to relocate to the regions for a better quality of life. While working in the legal profession will never be completely stress-free, compared to the demanding pace of London law firms, practices in cities like Manchester, Leeds or Birmingham arguably offer a degree of respite for burnt-out city lawyers.
Salaries are generally lower in the regions but, as a result of their amenities, affordability and proximity to the countryside, the shift in work-life balance usually makes a move worthwhile.
Many lawyers decide to move because their current location simply doesn’t offer them the opportunities they’re looking for in their chosen practice area. Commercial lawyers, for instance, will, of course, want to be based in a bustling city where they know there’ll be no shortage of opportunities to work on large, commercial deals.
Solicitors who work within niche areas of the law commonly need to move to another of the country where there are a greater number of suitable roles. However, unfortunately, these lawyers have limited options when it comes to relocation. If you decide to move into marine law, for example, it goes without saying that you’ll almost certainly need to be positioned on the coast.
Moving to an area of the country that’s home to niche firms in your discipline will enable you to continue to follow your passion and possibly enjoy a better quality of life at the same time.
Lack of ties
Early in your career, you’re less likely to be tied to a particular area and therefore open to relocation. Many eager candidates say they would be willing to move anywhere to secure their dream role. However, some young solicitors and paralegals are so keen to land their first legal role that they say they’d be prepared to move without properly thinking it through.
While you might not have the same level of personal commitments as lawyers in their thirties and forties, before you go ahead accept an NQ role in Penzance for instance, it is essential that you do your research to make sure that you are absolutely happy moving to a new city far away from your family and friends.
Regional markets for lawyers
At Realm, we are based in Manchester but work with firms across the North West, Midlands and Yorkshire. Here, we give our low-down on four key cities within the regions (Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool) and give an insight into their respective legal markets.
Arguably, the UK’s second biggest legal hub, for solicitors, Manchester certainly has a lot to offer. Within the last 5 years, big hitters DLA Piper and Freshfields have settled in the city, offering fantastic opportunities and a flow of high-quality of work from the Capital for Manchester’s lawyers. There are also a number of excellent national and regional firms, including CMS, DWF, JMW and Kuits.
For those who are new to the city, Manchester is home to one of the country’s largest Law Societies. What’s more, the Manchester Young Solicitors and Trainee Solicitors Groups offer plenty of networking opportunities for lawyers.
One of the north’s most vibrant cities, Manchester certainly has something for everyone. With its iconic music scene, rich sporting heritage and buzzing nightlife and cultural scene, the city rivals any other in the UK. Compared to London, house prices and living costs are much more affordable in Manchester, leading to many lawyers settling down in the city.
Our latest legal vacancies in Manchester can be viewed on our jobs page.
Significant investment in recent years has redeveloped Birmingham as a booming commercial centre, drawing many talented lawyers to the city’s thriving legal market.
Birmingham and the Midlands are home to a number of Top 50 law firms, including Eversheds, Shoosmiths and DLA Piper as well as a number of growing regional firms like Mills & Reeve and DAC Beachcroft LLP. Commercial clients tend to be from the manufacturing, automotive and logistics industries, with large corporations like Jaguar Land Rover and TNT having their headquarters in the region.
The in-house market in the city is also particularly buoyant, with a range of in-house opportunities available for Birmingham’s lawyers at leading businesses like RBS, Volvo and NFU Mutual.
The redevelopment of the city centre has certainly made Birmingham more attractive for lawyers looking to relocate from the Capital. The city’s central location, cultural heritage and lower property prices all make for a good quality of life for solicitors.
At Realm, we are recruiting for a range of different legal jobs in Birmingham and the Midlands, visit our jobs page to see our current jobs.
Yorkshire and Leeds
10 years ago, Leeds was well-known as being the second biggest legal market outside of London. While the balance may now have shifted, with Manchester taking the title, the city is still a strong legal hub. Lawyers in Leeds deal primarily with high-quality Real Estate and Corporate Commercial Work, with both international and local firms dominating the market including Addleshaw Goddard, Pinsent Mason and Walker Morris.
Because of its proximity to the Yorkshire countryside and the Peak District, Leeds offers lawyers the perfect balance of a cosmopolitan and rural lifestyle. The city is home to a number of museums, shops, restaurants and attractions, so there’s plenty to keep solicitors busy away from the office.
However, while Leeds might be the epicentre of Yorkshire’s legal market, York, Sheffield, Bradford and Harrogate also offer plenty of opportunity for lawyers and should not be forgotten.
To see our latest legal vacancies in Yorkshire, click here.
Liverpool is one of the North West’s key business centres. The Liverpudlian legal market has evolved in in recent years and is set to grow even further if the government’s Northern Powerhouse proposals come to fruition. Currently, a number of leading firms have offices in the city, including Weightmans, Hill Dickinson and Brabners. The growing private practice and burgeoning in-house markets offer copious opportunities for ambitious solicitors in Liverpool.
European Capital of Culture in 2008, Liverpool is one of the country’s most lively cities. The city's sporting heritage, its plethora of museums and art galleries and vibrant music scene make Liverpool an excellent place to live. It’s also really well-connected to the rest of the North West, with Manchester, Chester and North Wales a stone’s throw away.
Check out our latest solicitors jobs in Liverpool by visiting our jobs page.
How to begin your legal job search
The first step in relocating is to get in touch with a specialist recruitment consultant who is well-versed in the legal market in your chosen location. They will be able to advise you on the state of the market, provide an insight into the opportunities available in your chosen practice area and give their advice to help you make the move as straightforward as possible.
Once you’ve decided on a particular area, it’s vital that you go and visit the place you want to live. Spend some time there and read up on the schools, housing and transport links. If you can, speak with friends, family and locals to get a feel for what it’s like to live and work in the area.
Whether you’re a newly qualified solicitor in the early stages of your career or a more experienced associate solicitor or partner, the decision to relocate should never be taken lightly. Our expert legal recruitment consultants can help you weigh up the pros and cons associated with the role and help you reach a decision that’s right for you. Call us today on 03300 245 606 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.