Lawyers looking to relocate within the UK: what you need to know

Over the years, we have seen a number of people wishing to relocate for work. There are many possible reasons for the move, it usually tends to be due to a change in circumstances but sometimes, it can be as simple as relocating for the right role. 
The prospect of moving for a new role, either nationally or further afield, can be extremely daunting, and will require a huge amount of consideration beforehand.  The key to any successful relocation is research into the types of jobs that will be available to you and the current market in the region you are considering moving to. 

What is the legal market like? 

You may be considering making a move from a London firm to a regional firm or vice versa.  Whatever the case may be, in the current market, firms are keen to hear from legal professionals who have experience in growing transactional areas like real estate, corporate, commercial and residential property. In addition, areas such as private client, family and employment are also growing and lawyers who specialise in these areas are also in high demand. 
These demands vary from region to region. 

The Thames Valley 

The in-house market across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire has been buoyant for the last 12 months and is showing clear signs to continue its upward curve. With a diverse range of sectors and organisations, there is something to suit a wide range of legal specialisms, experience levels and aspirations. The main sectors to be found in the region are IT/technology, manufacturing and defence, and pharmaceutical with a great mix of major multinational blue chips and exciting medium to large organisations.  
With such close proximity to London, the main draw of the Thames Valley regions is work/life balance. The major hubs of the region like Reading, Slough, Bracknell, Oxford and Southampton have excellent transport links that ensure glorious countryside living is only a short commute away from the City. 
The private practice market within the Thames Valley and Southern Homes Counties, is extremely buoyant and you will find that transactional areas such as real estate and corporate are particularly busy. National and regional practices such as Osborne Clarke, Cylde & Co, Shoosmiths and Bond Dickinson are based here.  

South West 

Bristol is the third largest financial services centre in the UK outside of London. As a result, Bristol can offer in-house lawyers excellent opportunities in insurance and banking at the likes of Lloyds, Zurich and Computershare. The aerospace and defence sector also offers in-house lawyers top career opportunities with employers like Rolls Royce, BAE and Cobham based all in the South West. Energy lawyers are also in demand with major players like N.Power, EDF and Horizon Nuclear having large legal teams based in the region. Not to mention the likes of Dyson that can offer the opportunity to work in-house for a truly iconic British brand. 
Bristol continues to surprise the legal market in punching well above its weight in terms of legal offerings. Top tier city firms CMS Cameron Mckenna, RPC, Simmons & Simmons have continued to make their presence felt by offering highly competitive salaries and city quality work. The South West has followed the trend in the rest of the country and is currently seeing growth in corporate and real estate however, all sectors are experiencing an upturn of varying degrees making it the perfect time to consider a move.
Bristol is a cosmopolitanism city with culture, delis, restaurants and very good opportunities for in house lawyers. 


The London legal market continues to go from strength to strength in 2015, with all levels of firms from Magic and Silver Circle, City and West end, as well as US firms looking to increase their numbers. Particularly busy areas include real estate, corporate and banking, with construction, contentious and non-contentious, also seeing good growth. 
London firms will always be interested in lawyers looking to relocate, as demand for candidates currently outstrips supply. It’s a common misconception that London, and in particular, City firms are only interested in regional candidates from large national firms. This is not the case. Often City firms will value the wider experience that regional candidates can offer, especially at a more junior level. 
Like the private practice market, the Greater London in-house legal market has had a strong start to 2015. As in previous years, candidates who can demonstrate broad commercial experience are highly sought after. If they are coming straight from private practice, those who have been seconded to a business are finding that this added experience is an advantage to their move in-house. Interestingly, we are also seeing an increase in the demand for candidates with specialist experience including intellectual property and data protection. London is the heart of the financial world and is the home to cutting edge technology, media, construction projects and household consumer brands as well as the UK’s highest profile public bodies. It paves the way internationally across a vast range of sectors opening up exciting prospects for qualified and non-qualified lawyers. 
For legal professionals looking to relocate, the diversity of London’s industry provides an excellent hub of opportunity.

The Midlands

The Birmingham and Midlands legal market is very strong at present. The in-house market in the Midlands is heavily biased towards manufacturing and industry. Historically the UK hub for the automotive industry, the midlands boast clients such as PSA Peugeot Citroen, Jaguar Landrover, Rolls Royce, Volvo cars and truck, and SAIC Motor. The excellent network links to the north, east and the south, mean that the larger logistic companies such as TNT and UK Mail have set up headquarters in the region too. Large infrastructure projects such as HS2 and the development of Birmingham’s city centre namely the New street station development, provides interesting legal work and complex collaborations across the local market. 
The in-house legal market is extremely buoyant. Forecasts across the region are predicting increased growth which means more prospects for first in-house legal hires. In addition, existing legal teams around the 2-5 years PQE level are expanding.
For private practice opportunities, the Midlands is home to a number of international law firms including Pinsent Masons, Eversheds, Squire Patton Boggs, Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co and DLA Piper.

The North

Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle form the core of the legal market in the North. The region encompasses Chester, Harrogate and York. In all of these locations, the legal markets are thriving and present opportunities for candidates who specialise in property, commercial, corporate, construction, property litigation and banking. The in-house market across the North is very busy for commercial lawyers at any level.
Salaries are increasing in the North and firms are paying competitive bonuses. NQ salaries are starting at £40k at the larger firms such as Eversheds, Pinsents and DLA.
Here at Michael Page Legal we have specialist legal recruitment consultants in seven key locations in the UK and also have consultants placed internationally. As well as finding you a great new job, we can advise on everything from hiring trends and work culture in a particular region, to the general cost of living and where the best neighbourhoods are.
If you are thinking about relocating for work, contact Raj Bajwa, Manager at Michael Page Legal for a confidential discussion.
T: +44 118 955 9058