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Private Client or Litigation please help

(19 Posts)
Winterplant Thu 21-Jan-21 17:32:26

Hello,

I really cannot decide between qualifying into Private Client or Litigation.

I have trained at a medium sized regional firm. Do I have any chance of practicing Litigation in London (legal 500 firms)?

I think Private Client seems less stressful and a better work life balance but Litigation is more interesting.

I want to have children in the next 5-7 years, if that is relevant.

Please help- I am so torn!

OP’s posts: |
Winterplant Thu 21-Jan-21 18:04:38

Bump

OP’s posts: |
NoWordForFluffy Thu 21-Jan-21 19:44:13

I qualified into litigation and worked at a regional office of a top 50 insurance firm (it's the head office; they do have a London office) after training at a mid-sized regional firm. I've never had anything other than a good work/life balance since qualifying. I've chosen my employers well on that front!

MyDogCalledMax Sat 23-Jan-21 06:25:23

Hi OP. I am a private client solicitor working for a mid sized regional law firm in the South.
It is BUSY! But it always is at this time of year. Generally speaking the area lends itself well to PT work as there are no strict deadlines as with litigation. It is a steady area of law - our team have seen no drop in work during the pandemic unlike other areas...if anything it is busier as people have realised they need to have their Wills and LPAs in place.
PC is certainly no less stressful. It is very client focused and managing client expectation takes a lot of time. You are also dealing with people at a difficult time in their lives and that can cause heightened emotions from clients. I also spend a lot of time liaising between family members who do not get on!
Each area comes with its difficulties and you just need to pick the one that you think you are better suited for.
Good luck!

MsTSwift Sat 23-Jan-21 06:31:37

Personally don’t like contentious work so private client suits me better. Dh thrives on the fight so he prefers litigation. His hours are generally ok though occasionally on a big matter it becomes all consuming (he worked round the clock evenings and weekends for months before Christmas). My private client workload far steadier and more manageable.

MsTSwift Sat 23-Jan-21 06:32:44

Also think my elderly clients would drive dh mad!

Eileen101 Sat 23-Jan-21 06:45:51

I qualified into litigation and I really enjoy it. I had my first baby shortly after qualifying. I qualified at 30 though after working in a similar field first.
I'm at a regional office of a big firm and we don't have a culture of presenteeism, so my hours are pretty good and I've not ended up working around the clock.
You do sometimes get short deadlines, but it's never been anything that meant I've had to work outside of my hours, although it does sometimes mean dropping everything to do that one thing.
I find the area of work fascinating and I like the variety of litigation.
Other pps have said about having to manage client expectations in private client, but that's no different in litigation.

Cuthbert1 Sat 23-Jan-21 06:54:52

I trained in Birmingham then moved to a London on qualification (albeit in a transactional practice area). I suspect whether you train in London or regions is less significant than trainees think. Firms recruiting at NQ level care much more about whether you have the skills to do the work. If you have the talent and skills and work hard the it's possible to move around. NQ or 1-2 is a good time to do it as it's not a big punt for a firm to take you on. Once you've been practicing for a few years where you trained matters much less. Of course you need to be realistic though - firms will be looking for relevant skills so it would be difficult to get a hearing at the bigger firms if you've no experience with the kind of work the do. I know people who were really keen to work for a Magic Circle firm who got there via a few jumps (but personally that would be too big a quality of life sacrifice for me). For what it's worth - my advice would be to go for the discipline that you're most interested in (as it's much much easier to change firm than practice area once you've been qualified a few years) and - if you can - try to find a happy team - in my experience the immediate team has much more impact than the firm (difficult to assess from the outside but it makes such a difference especially at the start)

Winterplant Sat 23-Jan-21 15:59:14

I don't know if Private Client would get boring after a while. I do like the client interaction and it is quite easy to me.

Litigation seems more varied and interesting, but I feel like I would have no idea what the next step is - it isn't structured like private client.

I really want 9-5 hours as I will probably be commuting for an hour each way.

What do you all think?

OP’s posts: |
Cheongfan Sun 24-Jan-21 01:47:52

OP have you had to do any difficult client interaction so far? You stare you find it quite easy but I strongly suspect that's because you're cushioned from most of the difficult stuff, either intentionally by your firm or as a side effect of having a 'trainee' job title which means clients will take a lot of the shit over their head. I ask because I've never heard anyone describe the client interaction part of law as easy! Managing expectations with clients whose case is fundamentally important to them but only one of many things you have on is hard. Telling people things they don't want to hear is also pretty hard. Doing all that when on billable hours targets
and managing fee caps makes it all more hard.

Is there a difference in case load where you work between private client and litigation? Eg in private client would you have multiple small matters to manage and in litigation only a few? That's a working pattern difference to consider.

justinhawkinsnavalfluff Sun 24-Jan-21 02:04:39

I think if you want a 9-5 job law is not for you. I've been a solicitor for 20 years +

Winterplant Sun 24-Jan-21 08:48:31

@cheongfan of course I have had difficult clients but they are few and far between! I am good at dealing with people and managing expectations from the outset.

During my litigation seat I had a small case load and mainly took new enquiries, so I really can't be sure what it is like as an NQ. Private client, I've basically been an NQ Solicitor.

@justinhawkinsnavalfluff I think you will find regional firms are different

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NoWordForFluffy Sun 24-Jan-21 09:25:48

I've never NOT worked 9-5 since qualifying (with variations for flexible working), other than on very rare occasions. So it depends where you work and if you're prepared to take a salary hit for a work / life balance.

I get most, if not all, difficult clients to deal with as a) I'm good at explaining stuff to them and b) know how to remain polite whilst not taking any shit! It's a good skill to have.

Splodgetastic Sun 24-Jan-21 09:36:27

Litigation is less predictable if that’s what you mean by structure but if you are thinking about litigation you might miss the adrenaline rush / rollercoaster feeling of it after a few years if you go into PC. There are more opportunities in local areas with PC and litigation tends to be focussed in bigger towns and cities (certainly the big cases are). If you want to stay local do PC. If you want to try your luck in the big city qualify into litigation. You can do HNW private client in some firms in London of course too, but it’s less of a thing than it used to be (some big firms hived off PC teams so you have specialist firms). Court deadlines are inflexible but I know lots of women with children who are successfully litigating.

Winterplant Sun 24-Jan-21 09:46:26

@nowordforfluffy What area of law do you do please?

@splodgetastic I suppose I am also worried about the chances of getting a job in litigation as an NQ. I think perhaps coming from a regional firm it would be easier for me to get a private client role. I don't want to work in a high street firm though. I want to be at a tier 1 on a good salary. Not sure if litigation will be snobby in terms of moving to a city firm from a regional

OP’s posts: |
NoWordForFluffy Sun 24-Jan-21 09:55:07

Litigation, as I said in my first post. I addressed quite a few of your concerns in that post.

Cheongfan Sun 24-Jan-21 14:08:12

NoWordForFluffy

I've never NOT worked 9-5 since qualifying (with variations for flexible working), other than on very rare occasions. So it depends where you work and if you're prepared to take a salary hit for a work / life balance.

I get most, if not all, difficult clients to deal with as a) I'm good at explaining stuff to them and b) know how to remain polite whilst not taking any shit! It's a good skill to have.

I agree it's a good skill to have. I've never met a trainee that does it well! I've seen trainees who are fine at the usual 'it will take X weeks to do this and then this will happen and it will cost this' but not at how to handle it when it took X+1 weeks, or something else more urgent came in and you missed your deadline or something got denied that shouldn't have done, or the client isn't paying and you need to persuade them to.

Some of the best partners I know at client management talk about how hard it is. I do commercial law not private client, maybe private clients are far more reasonable than the ones I deal with! My experience is that client management is (generally) easy until something goes wrong.

But the OP clearly feels she's experienced it and deals with it well and ultimately I don't know her experience.

Cheongfan Sun 24-Jan-21 14:14:15

Winterplant

*@nowordforfluffy* What area of law do you do please?

@splodgetastic I suppose I am also worried about the chances of getting a job in litigation as an NQ. I think perhaps coming from a regional firm it would be easier for me to get a private client role. I don't want to work in a high street firm though. I want to be at a tier 1 on a good salary. Not sure if litigation will be snobby in terms of moving to a city firm from a regional

I think your issue will be your lack of litigation experience rather than firms being snobby. You mention just taking enquiries? What does that mean. You can't have just taken enquiries on potential matters (do you mean something else?) or you wouldn't have been able to have your training signed off. You need to work out how to pull out what you've done to be able to sell why a city firm would want you.

Also, why not apply for both? You don't need to tell any of the firms your applying for both (obviously don't apply for both at the sake firm!). Then you can decide when you know what jobs you have.

Cuthbert1 Sun 24-Jan-21 19:24:36

@Winterplant - not sure exactly what you mean by "city firm" but in my experience in private practice actually managing to work 9-5 is pretty rare in most fields at NQ level (especially as you don't have much control over your workload). If you can find somewhere where it's achievable then good luck to you. My advice would still be to do what interests you the most - it is surprisingly hard to change practice area once you've been working for a few years.

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