People who jacked in the City and moved to the regions

did you:

1) change careers whilst doing it?

2) have any regrets?

3) feel isolated?

4) feel poorer?



1) No

2) Not really, miss the closer teamwork in a larger firm

3) No

4) No

  • In the UK if you leave London you're leaving the dolla race. 
  • The dolla train pulls out of the station leaving you sitting alone on the quiet platform of an unknown future. 
  • Perhaps weeping. 
  • Probably wide-eyed and somewhat torn. 

Are certain areas of "the regions" better than others in practice?  Without having worked in the areas, I would guess the ranking would be something like the below (best to worst):

Bristol - depending on the firm, I imagine this would be quite good.  Probably quite a pay discrepancy between your Osborne Clarks and your TLTs.  No idea which is better when you factor in hours expectations.  Good city with enough stuff going on.   

Manchester/Liverpool - I would guess these are the best paying locations in the north/midlands, which probably makes you feel like a millionaire considering the house prices etc.  Is the pay less than Bristol?  Enough going on there (e.g. I think some proper clients do exist up there like the Co-op).  Proper sport available in the city. 

Reading - pay is closer to London pay but things must be 3/4 expensive rather than London price, so ostensibly quite a good deal.  Must make you feel like a 2nd class Londoner though.  Not sure Reading offers much in the way of interesting things.  I suppose you are close to London to be able to do culture.  I imagine Guildford also fits the above description, but it might be a nicer location - I've never been. 

Birmingham - pay doesn't seem good enough tbh when you are in a city.  Imagine it involves a lot of commuting to London as well making it a bit pointless.  The choice of firms doesn't look brilliant.  Maybe someone will tell me that I've got it all wrong. 

Cardiff - you can live somewhere cheap but I imagine the pay is crap.  Limited to people like Eversheds, so query what the hours would be like as well.  I imagine they look jealously over the river at Bristol. 

Haven't included the proper south west (Cornwall etc) as I assume the work is 100% "highstreet", even at the more proper shops like Foot Antstey. 

Are there any other regions from a commercial law perspective?

Expecting butthurt people to pile in and tell me Cardiff is brilliant (because Torchwood was once filmed there or something). 

The issue I have with going regional is that the nice areas still seem quite pricy to buy into while the pay levels are far less.

What do you mean by the regions?

When I totally left London to work by the seaside it was a bit pay cut but on the other hand life was much cheaper and for the price of my one bed flat in London I could have bought a perfectly decent 3 bed house where I was.  I was about to do that until the last financial crisis came along.  I felt just as well off as I had in London but on just over 50% of the salary.

Currently I live and spend all my time in the regions but it's a region close enough to London to still have a job in London.  Not sure though that I'd move to working for a local firm because salaries are lower than London but because this is a commuter area property prices are only a little lower than London.  I would certainly feel poorer if I moved to a big firm in Tunbridge Wells.

Moving to Bristol to get similar quality of work  to London, and for a better life style is going to be difficult, because no how you cut it Bristol is a bloody very expensive City to live in. A Burgess Salmon NQ gets paid 50k, and their equivalent in London will be nearer 80k.

Moving to Bristol to get on the housing ladder after qualification is going to be difficult without BOMAD, which most people don't have. 


The North west makes more sense it is a cheap as hell. Uni mate of mine seven years ago was working for the Big 4, moved to Manc , Didsbury to be precise and bought a 1200 sq ft 3 bed,  2 bath ,study, demised garden, split level apartment in a period conversion consisting of four flats for 250k. For those that don't know Didsbury is 20 minutes from Manc city centre, and very swanky and desired. Same property in clapham would be a million. He took a 10k pay cut

I worked in Cardiff for a number of years and I was happy there but you don’t really get anybody returning from big London firms. Firms tend to be quite public sectory in terms of work as that’s a huge source of work with devolution. So if you’re looking at it from the perspective of what suits people moving out of London, bottom is probably about right. It’s a pretty vibrant city with quite a lot going on and thanks to devolution WElsh Govt pump huge investment into it because it is the only place that can attract big events etc.

Bristol was a mixed bag with people moving from Cardiff. A lot of people actually didn’t like it because they found they were doing London hours for Bristol wages, whereas they thought they would be doing Cardiff hours for Bristol wages (and a bit better work). Clearly a much smoother transition from London though. 

I will never learn all the British idioms. 

But I've jacked in the City a few hundred times.

did you:

1) change careers whilst doing it?  changed jobs, but stayed in-house legal

2) have any regrets?  no, I loved London but doing it without someone else paying my rent would have been sub-optimal

3) feel isolated?  a bit, but I hate people so win / win

4) feel poorer?  no, it's cheap as fuck to live in the regions, especially if you're paid the same (or more) as when you lived in London

In terms of the isolation I'd never move somewhere where I didn't already have some connection and know a few people.

Only reason to do this is if you have kids, in which case you don't have a life anyway.

Quality of work and lawyering isn't the same despite what they tell you. If that's not the be and end all then it's not an issue but if it is important to you (and a lot of lawyers are bothered by that sort of thing) then think hard.

If that stuff is import to you you’re doing life all wrong

wow dimi_berbatov


nothing like a bit of backhand discreet racism. Not like the Welsh people haven't heard that before. I strongly recommend a visit to Cardiff, which incidentally is not particularly 'cheap', and is hands down one of, if not the nicest and friendliest cities, I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. I also recommend a trip along the Welsh coast to the Gower Peninsula, im sure you'll change your mind. May be a breath of fresh air compared to the pompous, snooty English tripe you're no doubt accustomed to.


sorry for the rant, but cannot fucking stand the attitude of some entitled English people towards Wales.


lol you're prob not even English now..



nb123, interested to hear more about your time in Cardiff, what firm where you at? What were hours like etc?

Cardiff is fine. If you're content eating at Zizzis or similar for the rest of your life.

Trained at Blake Morgan, hours were v reasonable (845 - 545 pretty standard).

I loved training there, was a really nice firm with a lot of very good lawyers and the culture was great. Firm is managed piss-poorly which is a shame. Moved to a very similar shop at the other end of the country and they don’t have some of the stand-out lawyers that BM have but it’s infinitely more commercial and profitable.

There are a small handful of big enough firms where you can get a good full-service training contract. For a regional firm they had a lot of good work and big clients, albeit very heavily public sector. 

correct legal alien, i restaurant nicest than Zizzi's et al is the barometer of how nice a play is / quality of life is!


when you see your mother tear up countless times at the snide remarks about her country hopefully one day you understand. There's a reason (or a hundred) why England is the most despised nation on earth and at times I truly am embarrassed to have been born there,

thanks nb, do you mind me asking what typical salaries were? i have been looking at relocating but the job adverts just seem to give standard salary ranges across the board for all practice areas

Trainee salary is probably about £26 / £29k.

NQ salary probably £38-40k at commercial firms. Eversheds about £4-5k more but you work disproportionately harder for it.

Other salaries going up from that. Maybe about £45k for 3PQE at one of the better firms and topping out at £55-60k for associates id guess. 

thanks, what would you estimate for small commercial firms such as Berry Smith etc?

Presumably top tier is eversheds, geldards, hugh james

tier 2 - blake morgan, capital, acuity

tier 3 - berry smith, darwin gray?

Pay is probably broadly similar in all of them.

In terms of firms then eversheds should be taken out as they are a satellite office albeit a big one. Property and employment teams are massive but they don’t compete in local market for any work. You’ll work disproportionately harder for a little bit more money. Lewis Silkin are great if you do employment or property.

Otherwise in terms of size/quality Blake Morgan, Hugh James and probably by now Capital are decent firms (although the latter were always better At marketing than law).

Geldards always seemed to be dying a death in Cardiff anyway, Acuity are a pretty small firm, Berry Smith are not much above high street. 

that's great thank you very much. Im hoping to qualify into corporate/commercial.

my family are from Bridgend so have always been interested in moving back. I hear there are some decent enough firms in Swansea too, not sure if you've heard much in that regard as closer to Bridgend than Cardiff!


what firms would you recommend looking at for a NQ corporate/commercial position?

Most of those firms will differentiate between Corporate and Commercial so you would need to decide.

Blake Morgan, Hugh James and Capital would be best bets. Acuity have a decent corporate offering, Geldards is ok. Greenaway Smith do a lot of deals but they are an odd setup. 

that's really helpful thank you - any advice on firms further west?

Not really, other than to say that the further you’re moving away from big cities then the smaller time firms are going to be.

Morgan laRoche always seemed biggest outfit out towards Swansea way. 

@jp1997 not sure how you’ve got to the race card from what I said, but maybe the Cardiff legal market should be higher in the list. FWIW the Welsh lawyers I’ve worked with on deals have mostly been in Bristol.  By the above accounts and apart from Eversheds (which is my only experience of it) Cardiff seems a bit different to your normal commercial law market anyway.

DB it’s a relatively small market in terms of pulling in outside work. Welsh businesses and particularly public sector orgs don’t tend to instruct elsewhere though so there is enough decent work to maintain a few OK firms.

Definitely smallest market of your list.

It warms my heart jp1997 to hear that your family is from Bridgend, a town both literally and metaphorically close to my heart.

I have no advice to offer re Welsh firms because I only ever worked in London but I can confirm that chasing top dolla is a soul destroying business. Basically, come home to your family. #hiraeth

you have a beautiful name Gwen. I have no interest in the 'city' rat race. However, as a future corporate NQ I would consider it rather silly to apply to places in swansea or elsewhere if i can get paid more to do similar hours in cardiff

In Swansea I would imagine there are probably only a very small handful of firms (e.g. DJM and MlR) where you could expect to potentially do a corporate NQ role. Anywhere else there or elsewhere in South Wales and you are basically looking at high street which means you are likely to be doing a mixed bag of transactional work if you’re able to get a job there.

If you want to be a corporate lawyer then Cardiff will hold much more by way of opportunity. I imagine you’ll get paid more and (save for Eversheds work the same hours, if not less as some high streety type firms will squeeze every penny they can). Plus it’s nice working somewhere with lots of other people around your qualification level for some Friday lunch pints etc.

I got mugged for my phone in Cathays. Fuck Cardiff and all who live in it.

looks like cardiff is the better option then for corporate work

I went on a stag do in Cardiff once - younger colleague- and I really was old enough to know better - the horror the horror 

did quite enjoy the lasses swapping a flash of their tits in exchange for a round of drinks but it was all downhill from there. 

Plus if you work for a decent Cardiff firm and do corporate you get to do at least 3 huge all-day piss-ups for international rugby games on the firm’s dime, even as a junior.

And probably taken to one or two others by junior colleagues at banks / big 4. 

Jp1997 I meant come "home" and work in Cardiff rather than chase top dolla by heading to London. Swansea didn't figure in my thinking and fwiw it's further away from Bridgend than Cardiff, though probably an easier commute.

yeah no interest in London, a corporate lawyer in cardiff / swansea will be earning a bloody good wedge compared to most

If u can I would advise trying to get on the London ladder and pay scale first. Dont get too used to the money and then move back out with City badge and pay rate. Or tbh if you are starting out u might well find you can carry on doing city work of some nature from wherever you want to live. If u can get London money and regional living costs that is a huge prize and worth the fighting for whilst you are young.

The good news is that post covid it will be a prize available for many more lawyers than in the past.

In every crisis there is opportunity...

I left the City for the Regions - biggest fvcking mistake of my life - stay in the smoke and in the wedge

I am struck, doing say proper commercial property work in Reading at a 20% discount on the hourly rate , results in near 50% discount in the fee earners pay.

Reading/Berksgire isn't cheap to live in.

Love all this talk of Cardiff. I moved to Cardiff from London in 2008. Worked in private practice in Bristol for first 3 years (commuting by train) but have since worked in house. Never looked back. I have instructed many of the Cardiff firms you guys have mentioned. I tend to go for individual people who are good and who I like rather than stick with one firm. Cardiff firms sadly can't do everything for me so I do instruct from other regions (Bristol, Birmingham, Exeter) but lions share of work still goes to the City. 

Happy to email anyone who feels ok leaving their email on here and can chat offline about life and work in Wales. 

Ps... amen to the Gower.  Heading there for 3 weeks in August... 

I jacked in London as distinct from the City 35 years ago. I was 4 years qualified when I left and yes I am in my 40th year as a Property Solicitor. Probably too old to be writing on this site but I thought  I may have some words of wisdom and interest to some who seek to go on the same journey I made.

My Articles (as training contracts were known ) were spent in a large (then,not now) West Country firm which I left for the bright lights on the day I qualified. I was single, had many friends in the Law in London (mostly in well known City/ Inns firms) and life was enormous fun. It was made better by the fact that by teaming up with another I could buy a one third share in a newly done up 3 bed house for £30,000 in  Wandsworth on a newly qualified assistant solicitor's salary of £8,000 pa !--and still save and go on a fortnight's ski holiday each year ---No bank of mum and dad --- 1981 to 1985 property prices doubled.

So after 4 years having used London as a ticket to ride I headed an hour out of London, joined a well known small firm with 6 partners which did a little litigation (including the mags court) and mainly Probate and residential conveyancing. I took an 8% drop in salary, but the offer had the promise of a partnership after a full financial year to see if we each liked the other.i joined people who wer very honourable and true to their word. My nearest partner was nearly 20 years my senior! I was the youngster! In my first year of partnership my earnings were nearly twice my final London salary which had gone up considerably in my time there.

The move  was the best thing I did. I am now one of 4 partners and PEP is considerably more in real terms, as you would hope, than it was in the 80s. With the aid and support of other new younger partners who joined soon after me the firm was very easily re-modelled. Litigation went and we now concentrate on fewer disciplines and some niche areas.Small firms can adapt easily--large ones cannot. This is the opening which some of you need to look at.

Many of the posts above which I read are clearly from Corporate solicitors. I think those of you in that work are stuck and have to stay put or move out to the large provincial firms. In doing so you are swapping one hell for another --no reduced hours, reduced pay and the chance of making partner even more competitive--life will not be better and you will not be home for children's bathtime. 

But for the rest of you do look at the 5/6 (and fewer) partner firms. No longer are we plugged in to Residential Conveyancing. We have as do others a fairly smart and sophisticated bunch of clients and the work is interesting. Agriculture ,Options ,Promotion agreements and the same commercial work as is done in London admittedly not in such volume. Much of the work is on London property in many cases for people whose businesses may be served by London solicitors.  

I married soon after moving out of London, we now have 2 grown up children (none are solicitors). On my earnings we bought a fantastic property where we have lived for 30 years. We have 2 horses, 2 cars, 2 bottles of wine at night if we want probably the same as the A&O partner may have but I am home in good time and have all kinds of interests out of work. what is the point of earning income which you cannot enjoy..

Working late means leaving the office and alarming the building at 6.30.--none of this midnight stuff feeling indispensable--graveyards sadly are full of such people. Occassionaly we may work a Saturday morning to catch up. We have no billing targets and we all get on.If we can repeat one year's earnings after another with a little inflation that is success. Earning enough to enjoy the things you want to do is what it is about rather than a relentless quest for more money where one knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

So you "non-corporate people" look at the small firms. There are plenty advertising Property and Private client jobs. Life is for living and the same adventure I went on 35 years ago is still there for you today-- you will earn "enough".

Good luck



Nice post from Trowby. Very interesting (and I will be a similar age or probably a bit younger....... and set up on my own (outer London) from home in 1994 - anticipating covid 19 by 26 years.... laughing as I type). I could have moved back to NE England (by the way no one mentions Leeds above nor to a lesser extent Newcastle (which with Manchester are good cities places for legal careers) but it was better here for schools, children, getting to work things. I am not telling tales out of school really to say my lawyer daughters work in London. Whether my student twins will remains to be seen. Their older (non lawyer) brother lives and works in Oxfordshire now.


I stayed in London zone 5 all throughout so had all those property losses in the 90s property crash etc.


I have never felt isolated as I have never had a single day of my life with fewer people in touch with me or here than I would prefer.

Financially it has not been as good as if the top city firm where I used to work had made me a partner but has been a lot better than most lawyers and I get to decide everything as I work for myself.



the gower is on of the most beautiful places on earth. People always seem to complain about swansea but the issue is you can only really enter it through the rougher dockland area in the east. If you had to come through gower and mumbles it would be seen as one of the most beautiful places in the UK