Regional Focus: Birmingham

Thanks to its convenient geography, excellent transport links and competitive size, Birmingham is arguably one of the UK’s most important legal centres outside London. More to the point, the city has shrugged of its industrial image and become a vibrant playground for young professionals who want a good alternative to working in the capital. more »

Birmingham fact file

  • Birmingham is the home of the Balti. Some claim the creation of the balti was the city’s most important contribution to society. Others, dispute this claim, with Birmingham bringing the world the likes of Jasper Carrot, UB40, Cat Deely, Jamelia, Barbara Cartland and Ozzy Osbourne, to name just a few.
  • Being a metropolitan city, Birmingham has pubs and bars galore. In the student price range is the Old Varsity Tavern over in Selly Oak. Alternatively, for a pub crawl Broad Street is the place to go. Moving up the price range is the Ploughor the White Swan, aka the Dirty Duck, in Harborne, or why not try the Bull’s Head in Moseley. For a trendy night on the tiles then it’s off to Poppy Red and the Rainbow in the City Centre. And when flush with cash, the place to be seen is Hotel du Vin or Malmaison.
  • The obvious place to shop is, of course, the Bullring. However, Selfridges has now opened in the area, making it a little more posh than it used to be. The Mailbox, home to Harvey Nichols and Armani, is the place to go if you want to burn a hole in your creduit card. There is also a flagship Louis Vutton store in Birmingham, although it tends to be frequented by footballers and their wives. For those with less expensive taste, apparently all the cool kids now shop in St Martin’s Market in the city centre.
  • Where to live is always a quandry, but if buying in Birmingham after selling in London, it’s two for the price of one. House prices in Birmingham are an average £150,915, compared with £342,963 in London, according to the Land Registry. For those looking to rent, a decent two-bedroom flat in Birmingham will be between £640 (unfurnished) and £900 (furnished) per month, according to findaproperty.com. If you’re happy to live in a damp shoebox, however, the rent drops dramatically to around £300 a month. In terms of area, Harborne is a leafy district with easy access to the city centre and has a high quota of young professionals. Edgbaston is another nice area and is traditionally Birmingham’s most prestigious district. those looking for the trendy feel of Notting Hill will find it in Moseley, which still has the bohemian vibe and those little independent shops. Alternatively, the canal side of the City centre is another fashionable choice. It is where Birmingham’s regeneration started from and has loads of bars and shops on the doorstep.
TRAINEE ABOUT TOWN
Name: Ben Gordon – Smith, second year trainee,
Firm: Hammonds, Birmingham

Why did you decide to do your training contract in Birmingham?

While at university I was undecided whether or not to undertake my training contract in Birmingham or London. Ultimately, I wanted a contract with a firm providing excellent training, breadth and quality of work, and a strong client base.

Following detailed research on opportunities available and given that I was also looking for a balance in terms of lifestyle, I decided to apply for a training contract in Birmingham. The next decision was to choose the right firm. I wanted high-quality work and an opportunity to be involved with interesting and challenging transactions that can be offered in national firms. Hammonds has proven to be the right choice. I’m involved in transactions with a diverse range of clients ranging from Aston Villa FC to one of the UK’s largest hotel groups. Although I’m one of 80 trainees at the firm, we’re given a hands-on role in terms of client work. I’m able to build relationships with clients at an early stage in my career, with client meetings, seminars and marketing events.

What’s the best thing about living in Birmingham?

In recent years Birmingham has shrugged off its old image and has become a vibrant place to live and work. There are a number of young professionals living in the city due to the high level of law, accountancy and surveying firms based in the financial district. You’re given an opportunity to attend a large number of events through Birmingham Forward or the Trainee Solicitors Group. With the redevelopment of the Bullring and Brindley Place, and further regeneration in areas of the city, it really is a good time to be here. All facilities are accessible, whether you want good shopping, restaurants or sporting facilities.

What’s your favourite restaurant in the city?

This is a tough one. It would probably have to be Wong’s on Fleet Street. Although Chinese isn’t always my favourite type of cuisine, the food and service there is excellent.

How much does a pint of beer cost in Birmingham?

It very much depends where you go, but some of the more trendy bars can be a bit pricey. Prices range from £2.60 to £3.20.