What's better: regional TC or magic circle paralegal?

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  • In the current market, how likely do you estimate your chances in getting another TC offer - with an MC/City/international firm, no less, since that appears to be your aim or preference, over regional?

    Only you can answer that more accurately than anyone, but I'd place a good bet on your odds being slim, and that is no disrespect to your credentials - they may be high, but so are many other candidates' - of which you are still one until you undertake training.

    I presume an MC firm will view its paralegals as purely an efficient way of getting through the more procedural than particularly legal work, saving the meatier stuff for the fee-earners and their higher rates. But that is just a guess. And you will also have to just guess what you might get out of the paralegal role. However you'll be more sure that by undertaking a TC, you'll be qualified at the end of it.

    You may have career ideals in mind but the best laid plans of mice and men and all that. You may actually find you enjoy regional work, and if you don't, well you're only training for two years and you'll be equipped with more knowledge of what you're really looking for should you wish to interview for a NQ role elsewhere. Once you're qualified, one of the biggest hurdles is out of the way and it becomes easier to move.

    I would advise you take the offer of a TC.

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  • Do you want to be a solicitor or a paralegal? Obviously having the magic circle on your CV looks good, but there are many more magic circle paralegals than there are traineeships, so being a paralegal does not assure you of a MC TC at the end. A training contract sets you on the path the qualification as a solicitor.

    Who knows, you might even like the regional firm and make a career there.

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  • To paraphrase the interview scene from 'The Firm':

    If you need to ask, you're not the lawyer we're looking for...

    Make a decision and make the decision WORK.

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  • The game is getting qualified. If you want to move on qualification and show your worth as a trainee then there is no reason why you won't be able to. Working in the magic circle is not the be all and end all - you will find that you will have a higher level of client contact and responsibility in a regional firm, which will make you attractive to employers on qualification if you don't want to stay where you trained.

    There is no guarantee of a training contract from a paralegal role. My advice is to take the TC, qualify and see where you would like to be when you are an NQ. Things change over 2 (or more) years.

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  • The grass isn't always greener on the other side you know! I am doing a TC at a city firm and some of my colleagues used to work at MC firms. From them I have heard horror stories of paralegals working for 5 years + and are still never offered a TC. MC paralegals (according to my colleagues) are not given the opportunity to prove themselves as real lawyers and as a result are never seen as potential future lawyers. In my opinion you should grasp your regional TC with both hands and count yourself lucky that you even have a TC in the current economic climate. As for your future options, it doesn't just depend on the firm you trained at. It also depends on the people you know, the area you decide to specialise in and any other relevant skills you may have (languages etc.) so I don't think that doing a TC at a regional firm will harm your future progression at all. Good luck!

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  • Take the training contract - they don't come along often. Magic circle and other top firms are full of paralegals all crossing their fingers for a TC but very few are ever successful. Being qualified is a much more attractive quality to have on your CV than a stint as a paralegal at a magic circle firm, where most of your time will probably be spent photocopying anyway!

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  • Take the TC. There is absolutely no guarantee that a paralegal role at a magic circle firm will lead to a TC, you will be no different to all the other paralegals fighting it out for a TC. The regional firm is offering you the certainty of qualifying and you're likely to be given more responsibility and get closer to the work at a regional firm than at a magic circle firm. You'll probably have a better work / life balance at a regional firm too. This one's a no brainer.

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  • Clearly in the minority but I think you should take the paralegal position. I also think you should apply for TC's at City firms, including the remainder of the Magic Circle, the next recruitment year. You could even be cheeky and ask to defer the start of your training contract at the regional firm and ask for a year out to earn (as a paralegal but don't mention this) and travel. There is a chance, though not a bankable chance, you may get an offer of a TC from the firm itself if you prove yourself capable in the job. They do have in excess of 100 trainee places to fill. It's not like some firms where the intake is less than 5. It's tough but the statistics work a little in your favour in comparison to other firms. Even if you don't secure an offer, with a paralegal position at a MC there will be a lot you can talk about in terms of experience and skills attained in your subsequent round of applications. Though you won't be training as a solicitor, with the number of o/t hours you will accrue, its entirely probable you will earn just as much. It's a well known fact that paralegals do end up earning as much, if not more, than first year trainees in the big firms. You'll get to experience the City, see if the work/life balance, or lack of it is for you. It's not the end-all, you're buying yourself a little time to see if you can better your offer whilst gaining useful experience. Particularly if you're a young graduate, not particularly concerning about qualifying as quickly as possible, it's the chance to have a MC name on your CV. It could open doors for you....

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