The top 5 reasons city lawyers move to the South East region

 Considering all that separates their offices is a few miles or forty-five minutes on the train, the life of a lawyer in London and the regional South-East could sometimes not seem more different. However, we know the top 5 reasons city lawyers move to the region.

Anybody working in or around the legal industry in this area will have their perceptions or prejudices regarding this divide, and many ‘City’ lawyers reading this will look down on the region with disdain. Terrible pay, low-value transactions and a poor quality of work.

And yet year after year, we at Harvey John have taken City lawyers by the dozen and found their new roles in regional firms they love.

And after a year of working from home due to the pandemic, many City lawyers have rediscovered a work-life balance. How many will want to return to lengthy train journeys and packed tubes?

so without further a do, here are the top 5 reasons city lawyers move to regional firms.

The Work-Life Balance

Imagine living ten minutes from where you work. The notoriously miserable London commute, with its sardine tin train and tube carriages, increasingly delayed and disrupted services (pointing no fingers, Southern Rail), and obscene price hikes, would be a distant memory.

How much time would you save per day? 2 hours? 2 and a half?

Not only that but in most regional firms, there’s no stay-late culture. As one senior lawyer at a highly-regarded regional firm told us; they don’t cripple you with working hours, and those who stay beyond 6 pm are thought of as a bit boring!

If you feel like City life is stealing your soul, a role in the region can help you restore the balance between your work and your life.

The Kids

Is the pitter-patter of petite feet just within earshot? For many, the arrival of a little one, or the progressively louder ticking of a biological clock, can cause them to reconsider their priorities.

The lively and picturesque towns of the region can offer good schools and great communities in which to raise a family. And with your improved work-life balance, you can get home in time for a nice family dinner, rather than struggling to make it back for bedtime.

Regional firms are also supportive of flexible and agile working arrangements. Do you want to start and finish early to make school pick-up? To be able to work a day or two from home? Want to have the flexibility to pop out for sports day? It’s all possible.

The Control over Your Destiny

If you’ve worked in a City firm for several years, you may feel like you’re struggling to get a grip on the next rung of your career ladder. Progression is tough. A partnership can feel like a glass ceiling.

In the region, you’ll have control of your destiny. The firms we work with want their lawyers to progress. They’ll show you exactly what you need to achieve to reach that next rung and support you in reaching your progression and career goals. You can tell them where you want to go, and whether that’s a partnership or something else, they’ll help you get there.

The Quality of Work

That all sounds great, you’re thinking, but won’t you be bored with that lower-quality work?

No – largely because there doesn’t have to be any drop in quality.

It’s a myth that only the best work is found in the City. The top regional firms are on that same level – and in some cases, better. Multiple City lawyers who made this transition have told us that a move to the region is not a step-down. Stepping into a top regional firm can be like stepping into a City firm.

The Salary

Ay, there’s the rub.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that a move into the region won’t come with a salary drop. Particularly at the lower levels of post-qualification experience, there is a big gap between what a City firm will pay, and what a regional firm can offer. But every year the top regional firms get more competitive, and the gap closes just a little.

However – when the region can offer you a better work-life balance, a big cut in commuting costs, more time with your kids, and control of your destiny while maintaining the quality of your work – isn’t it worth taking a little hit on your paycheck?

At Harvey John, we’re experts in the region, because we are acutely aware of the reasons city lawyers move. We know the best firms – not just from a cursory glance at the Legal 500, but from the close working relationships we’ve built with them over several years. We know all the amazing things that the region can offer, but we’re also realists about its flaws. For an impartial and honest conversation – whether a move to the region is something you’re considering now, or on the far horizon – give us a call.


Hayley Rose is a Director in the Legal Division at Harvey John.

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