Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

City lawyers wanting a life of crime

13.12.06 City lawyers wanting to do a "John Grisham" and get down on the street.
Every year we get a load of lawyers from magic circle firms wanting to "do a John Grisham" as it is known in the trade, and get down with the boys on the street. The phone call usually goes like this:
"hello - this is a general query really and I am not sure if you can help me." "I work for Linklaters/Clifford Chance/Allen & Overy/some US firm/etc.. and I want to change my career direction - I feel it is important to do something I will enjoy, and I have decided to do crime work. Can you tell me about jobs X Y and Z?"
At this stage many years ago I used to get quite excited. Afterall, this is a high calibre candidate looking for work, and someone with considerable talent. However, as I have become more hardened to the job, I now ask two questions.
1. Have you heard of the Legal Services Commission and Carter?
2. What do you consider a reasonable salary to live off?
Sometimes they have heard of the first issue, and say yes they realise it is going to be hard to get in, and that Carter is going to cause a bit of a rumpus. However almost every one of them will give a salary level that is way beyond the dreams of most crime solicitors - I think the average they expect to get whilst learning the ropes is around the £45k mark, rising to £60-70k plus out of hours once they are fully up to speed, say in about 3 months...
It is at this point that I revel in giving a harsh reality check and explain that the only lawyers who get this kind of money as a basic in crime are the partners (some of them anyway), and then ask if they have any crime experience. This is usually indicated as being negligble, but that they have done advocacy and enjoyed it. As a former crime solicitor myself, experienced in being yelled at and abused by district judges, magistrates, police officers, prison officers, clients, ushers, a boss and anyone else who wanted to have a pop, I usually suggest they go and sit for the morning at the local magistrates court and experience the humdrum ordinary world of the crime solicitor and the tediousness of applying to adjourn a case or deal with a pre-trial review.
Most do not want to listen, and have got it into their heads that their career move is to find something more exciting than corporate finance. What they do not think about is the house they are going to live in when they can only get a £100k mortgage, and what it is going to be like sat at a police station at 3am followed by a full day trial the following day.
Some do make the switch, and then the next telephone call will be "Hello, I am looking to get into corporate finance - I'm a crime solicitor but I'm not sure it is for me - can you help me find a job?", - specialist legal recruitment consultants in the UK.

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