Are you tired of London? Why the South-West is a popular option

Written by: JMC Legal
Published on: 8 Sep 2021


As the knock-on effects of the last two years continually impact people’s personal and career goals, more and more lawyers are choosing to move away from London and The City, preferring to live at a more relaxed pace, whilst keeping their career in focus.

With a legal history as old as the city itself, Bristol has long stood out as the UK’s most robust legal hub outside of the M25, with a booming legal market valued close to half a billion pounds annually.

Longstanding market lynchpins Burges Salmon, Osborne Clarke and TLT can equate their continued success and growth in part to the talent and ambition of the city, with Freeths recently establishing themselves and disrupting the market.

Global firms continue to see Bristol as the perfect backdrop in expanding their EMEA presence, being home to CMS, DAC Beachcroft and Simmons & Simmons.

Bustling with those wanting to apply their talents into emerging sectors and home to firms with agility and progressiveness at their hearts. The legal scene in Bristol continues to make headlines within Energy and Renewables, Construction, Commercial, Corporate and Real Estate. The UK’s leading Energy team sits within Burges Salmon, whose international work in the sector is truly unmatched.

Bristol is a city led by knowledge, with an economy underpinned by Legal, Tech, Media, IT and Financial Services. With access to some of the UK’s top graduate talent and a reputation for creativity and alternative thinking, Bristol leads where other cities look to follow, with forecasts made for Bristol being pivotal to the UK’s post-Brexit and pandemic economic recovery.

Whilst salaries are the highest outside of and often compete directly with London. The lifestyle draws legal talent into the city, with Bristol having a reputation for and being awarded as the UK’s “Happiest City” in 2019.

Whether it’s the picturesque backdrop of evening walks around the Floating Harbour and Clifton village, or access to some of the UK’s most beautiful natural spaces, such as Cheddar Gorge and the Brecon Beacons. Bristol’s immediate access to spots to unwind and enjoy the UK’s beauty is truly unique.

For those wanting to start a family, Bristol stands out as a city orientated towards young families, offering access to some of the best schools, and readily considered one of the safest cities in the UK. Offering value for money, the average asking price for a property in Bristol falls short of £300K. Compared to over £500K in London, more and more are breaking the mold and calling the city home.

The region itself and the wider South-West continues to grow and adapt at a uniquely fast pace, with the likes of Michelmores, Foot Anstey and Ashfords gaining increasing momentum nationally, underpinned by home-grown talent and reputations built on quality.  Exeter remains an exciting legal hub, home to some of the UK’s oldest Top 100 firms, with Plymouth increasing standing on its own two feet, with large and ever-expanding offices from the likes of Womble Bond Dickinson and Thompsons.

In the past two years, the region has attracted the highest number of lawyers fleeing the capital, and there are no signs for this trend to slow down. With my role solely recruiting into the South West, I’m increasingly working with those looking to enjoy what the region can offer, and there is no sign of this trend slowing down. Firms have responded to the influx of talent by attacking London-orientated markets with drive and ambition to do something different. As a result, we have seen starting salaries in the region increase between 15-20% on average during this period. This drive in the market has now led to many NQ salaries now exceeding £55K.

Whether a junior looking for a headstart or a Partner wanting to make the best use of their practice, Bristol and the South-west proudly stands front and centre as the preferred regional location.

Written by Carl Pace, Senior Legal Recruiter for the South West at JMC Legal Recruitment


Take a look at current roles located in the South-West