2018 saw an increasing number of London solicitors who have moved or are considering a move to the regions and in the last 3 months, our Midlands team has helped relocate a Banking Partner, a Corporate Solicitor, and an in-house Commercial Property Solicitor, back to Birmingham.
These solicitors have found that regional law firms have been particularly interested in speaking with them and many lawyers have ended up receiving multiple competitive job offers as a result.
This is because the regional markets are full of great solicitors, but remain short on candidates at certain levels of PQE and across certain disciplines. There is a particular demand for transactional lawyers in real estate, corporate, tax and banking, as well as demand within commercial and IT/IP and employment law.
So what is currently on offer for solicitors who might be contemplating a move out of London? Taking the Midlands legal market as an example:
I don’t want to compromise on the quality of my work – will this be affected by a move out of London?
Corporate teams are running high profile, often international corporate, M&A work out of their Midlands offices for leading international companies. These are not deals that are being half-serviced out of Birmingham, but deals that are led by Midlands’ partners and driven by Midlands’ teams alone.
Birmingham teams have a genuine national focus and there is an increasing number of London based clients who are looking to bring work to the regions for cost purposes.
I have re-evaluated my work/life balance priorities – will I definitely be able to keep a good balance in the regions?
For the record, lawyers in the regions work very hard. Moving out of London should not just be seen as an opportunity to push down on the brakes because our clients are still looking for lawyers with ambition, drive and motivation.
However, it is certainly a chance to reclaim a work/life balance. There is such a variety of law firms in the area that you can make the move whatever you want it to be. Ultimately, you don’t have to be chained to your desk, unless you want to be of course!
I am ambitious, but facing a ceiling in terms of promotion – what are my prospects in the Midlands?
Teams tend to be smaller in the Midlands than in London and therefore the right people can progress through the ranks to partnership faster.
The elusive client following that lawyers so often need to make an external move at a mid to senior level is not as much of an issue. We work with law firms in the Midlands who are more open-minded about finding the right skill set and person.
In certain disciplines, there is more opportunity to move at a senior level for an outstanding lawyer. There are many junior lawyers in the area who are holding senior positions, as many firms will reward high achievers and promote through a meritocracy rather than fixating on PQE.
At the beginning of 2019, we helped a Senior Associate from a leading London law firm make the move to Birmingham. They were able to move as a Junior Partner to a national firm without a client following or presence in the Midlands.
Will I have to take a huge pay cut?
London firms pay London wages which tend to be higher. Nothing can change this, but law firms will be competitive for the right candidates and very competitive for the best candidates. Equally, the cost of house prices and living in the Midlands is significantly less.
Finally, would Midlands’ law firms be interested in me?
The standard of lawyers in the Midlands is excellent and there are plenty of great candidates here. However, our clients will always be interested in and will recruit solicitors from outside of the region. Excellent solicitors from particular disciplines (real estate, corporate, tax and banking and commercial, IP/IT) will almost always spark immediate interest, but the overall message is that if you are a driven and ambitious solicitor at any level and considering a move to the Midlands, then both my clients and I would like to hear from you.
For a confidential discussion about Midlands opportunities contact Conor Farrell, Manager at Michael Page Legal in Birmingham.
Conor has over 10 years’ experience working within the Midlands legal market. He has been recruiting into the local market since 2012. He recruits solicitors into private practice from NQ to Partner level across the West and East Midlands. The team also have a specialist in-house function, recruiting for a range of companies and organisations in the region.