Working for a high street law firm

Author
Rachel Swain, Editorial manager
Posted
August, 2015

Multinational law firms make the most headlines, but smaller firms can be the perfect breeding ground for talented law graduates

High street law firms are small and medium-sized practices whose primary business is to provide legal services to household clients. Those opting to train in a high street firm will often benefit from opportunities to take on more responsibility much quicker than is given to trainees in larger organisations.

Solicitors working in high street law firms deal with a variety of issues including:

  • employment matters;
  • crime;
  • debt;
  • family and matrimonial work;
  • and compensation claims.

Niche high street firms also exist which specialise in a particular area such as immigration or publicly funded care work.

The reason the work is so diverse is because smaller firms serve a range of clients. This allows trainees to build up significant experience dealing personally with many different legal issues; often more than those who start their careers in larger firms.

Those opting to train in a high street firm will often benefit from opportunities to take on more responsibility much quicker than is given to trainees in larger organisations

Getting work experience

It's not always easy to find out which high street firms provide good training and development. Often it's the large, corporate firms that offer talks at university employer days and many small companies don't even have recruitment brochures. When it comes to law, networking and building contacts is essential and often where you will find out about opportunities.

Arranging work experience at as many firms as possible is another good way to see what a company is like and what training contracts, work and environment are on offer. It will help you to discover which areas of high street law interest you the most, something which you can then emphasise in speculative applications to firms, stressing your enthusiasm for the practice's specialisms. Make sure to research each company thoroughly and tailor your CV and cover letter to each one.

This experience should also make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers, particularly if you try to arrange several work placements. This will help you stand out from the crowd, even if other candidates have a similar academic track record.

Identify opportunities by searching for internships and training contracts.

Developing your skillset

It's imperative that lawyers have good people skills. If you enjoy helping people then a smaller firm could be for you. Clients will drop in for conversations, so a friendly and patient attitude counts for a lot. The ability to communicate, empathise and develop working relationships and trust is also crucial for those who wish to progress in high street law.

Developing these skills will help you to improve as a solicitor, as well as encourage clients to entrust you with their legal issues whenever they need assistance.

What's more, it will show your peers and superiors that you are a dependable and committed member of the team who can be relied upon to try your hardest at all times.