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Law firms 'becoming less attractive'

Posted by: Laurence Simons 20/05/13

The traditional route for newly-qualified UK lawyers has been to look for a training contract at a prestigious law firm, because they pay NQ workers well and you can tell all of your friends you work for an impressive company to make them like you more, and for some helping to mask the gaping hole where their personality should be.

Also, the career prospects are known to be excellent when training at a 'big-name' organisation, even if the amount of work given to NQ staff is often somewhat daunting.

But Legal Week Intelligence's annual Law Student Report, which this year surveyed more than 3,000 undergraduate and postgraduate law students, has revealed that people moving into an industry career are now considering other options.

To some extent this could mark the renaissance of in-house careers, with recent reports suggesting that high bonuses and a more flexible working schedule are making this an appealing route for British legal professionals.

However, there are other factors at play. The proportion of students considering a career outside of the law has risen significantly from six per cent to 16 per cent, with the most popular alternative career choices being academia, market research and the civil service.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer graduate recruitment partner Simon Johnson pointed out that many students are "hedging their bets" because they no longer feel confident of landing a place on a training scheme.

"They're more engaged and interested in the job market than their predecessors. The perception of our recruitment brand changes subtly year on year, and we listen closely to the students' feedback to give us the best chance of providing what they're after," he added.

Students also ranked firms in terms of career opportunities, prestige, work/life balance and more - Macfarlanes emerged as the top City firm, Allen & Overy was first among international firms, while Jones Day headed up of the US category.