Excellent recap of my question, I must say. What is the pay comparison? Presumably you can get excellent training in smaller firms and it's not exclusive to the big 5?
EDIT: sorry that's way more snarky sounding than I meant it If pay is consistent and training is consistent, is the only draw the prestige?
I'm planning on going down the Barrister route - so my contact making is slightly different. I did have an intership sorted in Ghana of all places but I managed to do my back and had to defer a couple of exams so I'm stuck in Ireland for the summer. (Heading off next year though!) Have to admit this was more for the experiance of Ghana than of working for a lawyers firm. It's rather an odd setup there; you wear your suit to work and you are a solicitor - you then stick your wig on and head into court as a barrister.
Digression aside I dont think I'd stand much chance I just don't have the interest in the solicitor route - although some of the posts ref NQ salaries are tempting I'm also 32 so I think I might be a bit past in regards to someone they can mold the way they want!
More seriously, there are one or two mid-size firms that buck the trend but pay is generally better in the big five. There is generally more prestige work for bigger clients, and facilities are usually better. More opportunity to specialise. Training is, I would imagine but don't know for sure, significantly better - the smaller firms can't afford to dedicate the same resources to trainee programs.
There are obviously downsides to big-firm life too.
Is A&L still 35k?
Not if you move to a decent City firm. Any young solicitor/NQ I know who has moved to has done so for a salary far in excess of that.
About 10k lower for the top 5. Somewhere like Maples might pay that though.
Edit: I wouldn't focus on trainee salary too much. Make sure you look at NQ salary as well. Don't be afraid to ask this if you've any offers. Its hard to difference the big firms but a couple of grand over the course of your training contract isn't something to worry about too much.
I know who the Big 5 are but always wondered how do they rank within that 5.
I'm guessing number one is Arthur Cox and number 5 is William Fry but out of A&L, McCanns and Mops who would be seen as 3rd, 4th and 5th?
It's very difficult to rank the big 5 as who's no.1 depends on which area you choose. A&L Goodbody have a superior funds team to the other 4 but MOP's tax department would be regarded as better. I believe that McCann Fitz might be the biggest firm based on personnel but I could be wrong.
I assume he meant arrange by salary, what with the thread thats in it!
I don't think there is much dispute that the top five firms and a few medium sized boutique operations pay far better than smaller firms. If 35k is the going rate for the big firms, nothing or the law society minimum seems de regiour for small firms.
As to the quality of training, of course you can get excellent, perhaps better training in a small firm than in a large firm, but that in a sense is missing the point - the perception is that the big firms provide better training and that is a big draw. The perception, albeit not the reality, is that having worked on a €100m, 500 page contract for a complex lease that a residential conveyance should be easy, or that working on a massive commercial litigation file makes a circuit court dispute seem easy. They are differet skills and both require different training - indeed the training provided by a top 5 firm could be useless in a general practice. But the perception is that the training is better, and I suppose there is less liklihood of being a glorified legal secretary in a larger firm.
Possibly, but that's a bit like speculating that if a barristers chambers had an equal admissions policy and paid a liveable wage to new entrants, wouldn't it be a good thing for new entrants. Of course it would, but that assumption is not a partiularly good reason to be in favour of a chambers system. So too it is unwise to assume pay and training are the same in big firms and small firms, leadig to the conclusion that there is little attraction for the big firms.
I suppose my logic (personally) would be, get into a medium boutique firm where you can get more personal training and good money rather than be another faceless newbie.
Point taken about being a glorified legal secretary though.
Well yes, I mean the ideal would be to work in a firm that is not so big that you are a faceless work drone but not so small that you are pigeon holed into one area, where there is sufficient responsibility given to you to be able to learn fully with the security of an overseeing partner to make sure nothing goes wrong, top dollar without massive hours and nice friendly co-workers and a subsidised canteen.
However, from what can be pieced together from these threads in boards alone, that is very far from most people's experience of entering the legal profession. Moreover, this is very far removed from the historical reality too. It isn't all that long since securing a fee-paying apprenticeship (that is, you pay the solicitor-master and you work for them for free) was quite a hard thing to do, and securing a non-fee-paying or even a paid apprenticeship was the preserve of a select few firms.
Having spoken to people who have apprenticed in big firms and small firms, I would say that although there are pros and cons to each.
In the big firms, you have the high wages and good likelihood of having a well paid job if you're kept on (which is MUCH more likely in a big firm, e.g. top 5 firms kept about 50% of their trainees this year). THe level of training is apparently hit and miss though depending on the particular partner in each rotation and as well as that, you do not get much in the way of responsibility. Also, there is very often a culture of staying late in the Office even if there is nothing to do. I know people who have stayed in the Office till 11 and 12 just because they didn't want to be the first to leave the Office. An extreme example, but indicative of the culture that is present in some firms.
In the smaller firms, you'll generally get alot more responsibility in terms of running your own files and meeting clients, etc. and you'll be expected to be able to do alot more on your own initiative. Downside is the pay and the fact that your Blackhall fees probably won't be paid. Also, when you qualify, it'll be very difficult to get a job in anything other than a small firm, who generally don't hire that often and certainly not newly qualifieds.
It's called a "face time" culture. And it's fools gold to work for any firm who do it. When you breakdown how much you're being paid, it could be in and around minimum wage.
10 to 20 hours or real work in a week. And then 50 of pure arse kissing.
These firms also have a habit of chewing people up and spitting them out really quickly. They sack people for the sake of it. You have to survive on your "social skills" (ability to kiss ass, and not seem a threat to whoever the nearby psychopaths are). The descriptions of these places I've heard are awful. Everyone is terrified they're about to be sacked. Everyone is "working" excessive hours. They're more like religious cults with psychopathic leaders.
And I wouldn't believe talk of 50 or 60 thousand. These firms pay the minimum possible. People tend to exaggerate.
Of course. If you're pompous, psychopathic, like working practice that are so restrictive it's worse than prison, and that you have to spend all your time socialising with the pompous psychopaths you work with or risk getting the sack, then.....Maybe the big firm is the kind of place that would suit you down to the ground.
All that glitters, is not gold.
Sounds like most work places outside of the Public Sector to me The only difference in the PS is shorter hours to be fair!
For most of that I thought he was talking about financial services, same game.