There is no doubt that London is a fantastic place to work. The vast amount of companies, access to international clients, and a diverse workforce combined with the endless bars and restaurants mean that there is a lot of opportunity, and you are never without something to do. But when it comes to working in the Legal Industry, the Northern Home Counties are becoming a very popular choice with many professionals, from legal assistant’s right up to partners, who are perhaps looking for something different from their career.
Fram Executive Search is a Bedfordshire-based recruitment company and whilst we work with clients across the UK, we have seen a lot of demand in our surrounding areas with many high-quality law firms hiring. For this reason – among many others – the Northern Home Counties are becoming a very attractive prospect for many.
Access to high quality work
Firstly, London isn’t the only place to get access to high quality work. There is a thriving business community in the region. As an example, 781 international firms chose Milton Keynes as a location with over £1billion of private investment in last decade alone.
Another important fact to note is that historically, the majority of the larger Law firms had their UK office in London, which meant that more people had to commute. Whilst this is still the case for a lot of the leading Law firms, many of them have now branched out into other parts of the UK, so that more business can be generated and there are more opportunities for employees based outside of London.
Therefore, the list of well known law firms in the region is extremely impressive.
“More then ever, legal services are not confined by location. Irwin Mitchell’s international work outside London is an example of a firm using its network to good effect”, argues a writer for Chamber Student. Irwin Mitchell is one of the largest Law firms, employing 2,490 people in over 14 offices in the UK, showing that there are plenty of opportunities to work outside of London.
The holy grail – work-life balance
To start with, the quality of life and work/life balance can be considerably better, especially for people with young families or other commitments. The time that would be spent on a busy train commuting into London could be time spent with family or friends, or it could just allow extra time for you. A study conducted on 34,000 UK adults showed that those who commuted less than half an hour each way to work were able to gain an extra seven days worth of productive time per year, as well as increasing overall positivity and quality of life.
Whilst you would still likely have a commute when working in the Northern Home Counties, the trains would probably be quieter or the drive would be more pleasant and away from busier roads.
The money question
Income is probably the biggest incentive when it comes to working in London Law firms. Whilst statistically, lawyers get paid more in London compared to the Northern Home Counties, it is important to weigh up the costs of commuting and other lifestyle factors. Commuting into London can be very expensive, with an annual season ticket from Bedford to London St Pancras costing around £4,600, and when you factor in car park payments also, this can really take a dent to the pay-check. Although you are likely to earn more in London, sometimes it can be more beneficial to earn slightly less outside. Remember as well that working outside of London doesn’t mean you say goodbye to it altogether. Many lawyers regularly meet clients in London, even if based elsewhere.
Additionally, living costs in London are often considerably higher, so even if you don’t have to commute, you may end up with more expenses regardless. The further away from London, the lower the house prices tend to be, so if this is compared with paying rent or a mortgage in the Northern Home Counties, the disposable income you would be left with at the end of the month may be a lot more than expected if you don’t live in London.
Although London can be great for family outings, due to how much there is to do, living and working in the Northern Home Counties arguably has more to offer for families. There is plenty to do in the more rural areas to occupy both adults and children, and you are still able to access quick and easy transport links into London, if you desire. Furthermore, the quality of schools and colleges are not compromised in the areas outside of London, with both state and private schools consistently performing well in exams and sports. Living in the Northern Home Counties allows for a more relaxed and slightly slower-paced lifestyle, but still with opportunities to travel both into London and the surrounding counties.
Whilst Law is going to always be a competitive industry and London is still likely to be considered the central hub, it is always important to consider working in other towns and cities. Evaluating what you want out of life, your career and yourself is the most valuable and useful thing to do when deciding where to work. If you want a higher-salaried job, then London is probably the right location for you, but it can result in longer working hours and more money and time spent on commuting. However, if you would prefer a change of pace without compromising too much on the work you do, working in the Northern Home Counties Law firms may be the ideal choice for you. The important thing to weigh up is what your priorities are in your career and life, as there are definitely positives and negatives to both.
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