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Calling barristers, solicitors and other legal professionals....(20 Posts)
I'd really appreciate some help!
I'm just coming to the end of my part time LLB and now I need to decide what to do next.
I get really bored working in the same office day in day out so thinking that becoming a solicitor might not be the right choice for me.
I'm not always very confident so that worries me about going down the barrister route but I think I could fake it till I make it.
Both routes and their long working hours culture worries me, not because I'm workshy, but because I have a son with SEN and a small support network to help in emergencies or when things go wrong at school.
Can I please have your honest opinions about working in the law? Any stereotypes which are untrue. Pros, cons, anything that you'd tell someone considering your job. Thank you.
I'm not a lawyer so I'm sure someone better informed will be along to give better insight but I have worked with a lot of them over the course of my career.
It largely depends on what type of law. The IP lawyers I worked with seemed to have a reasonable work/life balance and certainly those in-house focusing on areas including compliance earned a good wage and could reasonably expect to be home in time for bath/bed etc with quite decent leeway for flexible working.
My honest advice would be don't do it!! It's hard to find a family friendly job in law, what area of law are you looking at practicing in? Lots of areas are making redundancies at the moment, it's the "boring" ones (wills & probate) that are a safe steady bet. Law is actually quite boring in practice.
Competition for training contracts is fierce, there are more graduates and qualified lawyers than there are jobs, so unless you have a 1st, or a family member who is a partner in a firm, you might find it tough to get a TC. Every firm I've worked for has a post-room staffed by graduates, hoping to get a foot in the door in the hope of getting a training contract.
And you cannot fake the confidence needed to be a Barrister!
I don’t know any lawyers who would encourage people to go into law at the moment, there are a lot of issues.
LLB is a good degree for any kind of business or management role, no need to go into law.
I'm a solicitor and work in the city. I think the more important question at this stage is how realistic will it be for you to find a training contract.
As for the bar, again it depends on your qualifications. It's a much smaller pool of available jobs at the bar so you may end up in the poorer paying end and the hours may be less suited to a child with SEN.
What area do you want to specialise in and what do your qualifications to date look like
I was a barristers clerk for a decade. You have to really live the job to do it these days. Unless you are going to slog to specialise in privately paying commercial or high end work you don't earn well now. The legal aid rates have been decimated and work has tailed off. Lots of Counsel I used to work with have had to change speciality, or just really adore their work so do it for what ends up being a fairly average salary given the hours they work.
I did a law degree and then an LPC too and ultimately didn't become a lawyer. I valued my work life balance too much!
As a solicitor you have much more control over where you are and how far from school/nursery. Not so much as a trainee though.
Court work is utterly unforgiving of childcare needs. Judges can be pretty shitty about it, even asking for a break to make a call to summon help has earned me a good grumble.
What kind of law do you want specialise in?
Thank you for responses. I have 12 years' experience in law - some in conveyancing and some in company secretarial (in house compliance for large PLCs, basically). The compliance stuff, and working in the same place each day bores me silly although I am earning OK for a job that allows me to work 9-5 and nothing more.
In terms of area, I'd like to do something people focused, so family, employment or possibly wills/probate/trusts.
I'm on course to get a first but not from a RG uni or anything. Hoping that the fact I've done LLB whilst working full time might count for something when trying to get a training contract or Pupillage.
I am a solicitor and work in-house (commercial) part-time. I have alot of flexibility (working from home for example) and i love my job. But I have numerous years PQE and it has taken a long time to get to this position. As a trainee and early PQE i worked in private practice, long hours and had zero control over my work life balance.
My friend is a partner in a firm of solicitors. She's had a rewarding, not very demanding career in a very niche area - contentious tax, probate and indemnity. She works part time, earns well and seems to have a very good work/ life balance.
Reckon it's boring af though, although she enjoys it .
I'm a partner in a law firm and husband is a senior legal counsel in house. If you like a different day each day and need flexibility I'd say go in-house my husband has far far more flexibility than me. Private practice the stereotypes you hear of are true I've worked very hard and very long hours to get to my position but now I am in it (have been a partner for over 8 years at 2 different firms) I am worse of than when I was just a practicing solicitor very little flexibility/poor maternity leave and pay (the higher ups want you back in ASAP one lady I work with was back after 12 days and that is now expected as the norm after childbirth ). If I had my time again I'd go in house - tbf I would go into law at all really but given your background and experience in house would be my suggestion but it is not especially people focused. Good luck
I think @loulouljh has hit the nail on the head actually. There's probably flexible roles in most areas but the impression I've been given thus far is that you have to sell your soul and sacrifice any work life balance for a good few years first. Doable as a 20 something single graduate but not so much when you've already got a family.
Not a lawyer but how about the government legal service? Interesting work and generally very good work life balance. It's competitive to get in but I don't think more so than anywhere else. I think it's exclusively London based though do check.
Much depends too on who you want to work for. Looking at friends and acquaintances who work for big city law firms, nearly all have degrees from Oxbridge; those firms don’t seem to cast the net very wide when recruiting and awarding training contracts. The working hours in the first few years are inhuman. People (and especially women) seem to bail out when they’re about 30, to look for something with better work/life balance.
I did my LLB, went onto the LPC. Graduated in a year where there were double the graduates vs no of training contracts. Worked as a legal assistant and latterly a paralegal. Made redundant from last role. I've been in my current job 6 years. It's sod all to do with law and is office based.
Sorry meant to add, in my legal work I was doing 12-13 hour days when you included expected overtime plus commute. In some of the role I was emotionally affected - care cases. Now I work 830-5 Monday to Fri and live 10 mins from home with practically no stress. Oh and the same salary as the one I was made redundant
Go in house! I was private practice and hated it, girl I know is in house for a large multinational and has a much better work life balance than I ever did, also more progressions, flexibility and modernity in the work place.
Well first exam went badly, perhaps a first isn't on the cards after all.
I think I'm going to delay for a few years and try to get some relevant experience in the meantime, vacation schemes and mini pupillages etc.
Then get the vocational stage completed while DS is mid teens and then be ready to throw myself into hellish hours when he's 18!
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