For much of the last year, the City of London has been eerily quiet. But now the world is starting to return to normal, has working in London lost its appeal?
Some have missed the buzz of the capital and are relishing the big return. Others have enjoyed escaping the rat race. They have no desire to go back to the long days and painful journeys on the train or tube. There has to be a better way of working.
Law firms in the regions are flourishing and they are attracting City lawyers who crave a better work/life balance.
Covid is just the latest challenge faced by the City of London. The Square Mile has already been heavily impacted by Brexit, and, after experiencing working at home, many employees are demanding hybrid or flexible working. The desire to avoid the city commute is spreading across the board, including within the legal sector.
Back in 2019, I published a blog outlining the 5 main reasons why city lawyers are heading for the regions. Since then the exodus has accelerated.
Many successful law firms can be found across the Home Counties, and there are many towns and smaller cities which can boast a thriving legal economy. In all likelihood, these legal hubs will thrive and grow even stronger.
Here are some of the leading South East locations for law firms - and why they are attracting solicitors looking for a better life balance...
Tunbridge Wells (or Royal Tunbridge Wells to be more accurate) is a magnet for Londoners looking to find a slower pace of life without moving to a remote village.
At the heart of Tunbridge Wells is The Pantiles, a stunning Georgian pedestrian colonnade of boutique shops and houses. It is a thriving hub of activity in the summer with a cafe culture and live music from its traditional bandstand.
It is a great place for families with excellent schools in the town, including three grammar schools: Skinners for Boys, Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar and Tunbridge Wells Grammar for Boys.
The town is situated on the edge of a High Weald area of outstanding natural beauty, and Sevenoaks enjoys a similarly stunning location.
The Evening Standard wrote of Sevenoaks: “There can’t be many towns where you can walk straight off the high street to find yourself in a 1,000-acre medieval deer park with access to one of the greatest houses in England, Knole, for more than 400 years home to the Sackville family.”
It is the mix of a thriving town and picturesque countryside which has made Sevenoaks a popular bolthole for fed-up Londoners.
Legal firms in Tunbridge Wells & Sevenoaks
Guildford has pretty much everything you could need in a town: a university, a cathedral, a castle, theatres, an annual festival, countless restaurants and a plethora of independent shops. The only surprise is that it has yet to be classified as a city.
Set on the River Wey and famous for the 17th Century clock, which is a familiar landmark in the historic high street, Guildford has a thriving cultural scene. The town is particularly proud of its Shakespeare Company which works tirelessly to promote the arts in the town.
It is no surprise that the town is often selected as one the best places to live in the South East.
Legal firms in Guildford
Crawley hasn’t always been viewed as one of the most fashionable towns in the South East, though it has produced one of the UK’s finest comedian’s Romesh Ranganathan and, of course, Gareth Southgate! Crawley benefits from being a mere 35 minute drive to the cool beachside city of Brighton and Hove.
What Crawley can boast is a thriving and important business scene. Crawley’s Manor Royal is the largest business district in South East England covering 240 hectares, and is home to more than 500 businesses. Many of the businesses are well known blue chip multinationals.
The reason that Crawley is such a vital business centre is, of course, is the proximity to Gatwick Airport, making it an international hub. Crawley sits at the heart of the influential Gatwick Diamond Business community.
Legal firms in Gatwick & Crawley
Irwin Mitchell LLP has 15 UK locations. Founded in 1912, the firm has established an incredible reputation in the Personal Injury and Medical Negligence fields. The Crawley office came about following its acquisition of Thomas Eggar - Irwin Mitchell was keen as a firm to diversify its practice areas - the Crawley office largely focuses on Private Client, Real Estate (including Construction and Planning), Corporate and Commercial. Irwin Mitchell has now become the largest full-service law firm in the UK with leading private client and business legal departments. In 2019, the firm achieved Superbrand status, alongside international heavyweights as varied as British Airways, eBay, and LEGO.
DMH Stallard See profile in Guildford section.
If you are considering a move to the beautiful South East and are potentially, along with so many lawyers out there, in the throws of negotiating your future work pattern with your City based firm, why not contact me? I am always free for a confidential chat to see what job the regional firms may be able to offer you in terms of a hybrid working model / quality of work / salary package etc.
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