Never underestimate the opportunities at stake just because of a law firm’s magnitude – let us draw your attention to the prospects ahead in joining a median-scaled firm. 


It is important to instantaneously outline that this article is, by any means, not meant to discourage anybody from applying to law firms with respectable presence – the recruitment process can guide applicants to discover more about themselves and their aspirations.

However, admittedly, the unfortunate reality is that places are limited and a sizeable proportion of capable and talented individuals will miss out on advertised vacancies. The UK legal market is competitive – for example, between 5,500 and 6,300 Training Contracts tend to be offered annually to a field of five-six times the number of applicants. Chambers Student even estimates that just a staggering 1.15%-2% of future lawyers make it to some of the top-end businesses, which raises a question: why not consider alternatives, such as middle-sized law firms?

Applications and Learning & Development Opportunities

The process of contracting employees in middle-sized firms may suit some people more depending on the role they are competing for. As opposed to going through a lengthy application form, a situational judgement/verbal reasoning/Watson Glaser test, an interview and an assessment centre, some middle-sized firms finalise candidates’ selection for work experience solely based on an application form. Two prime examples are Paris Smith LLP and Stephens Scown, the latter of which shortlists applications twice before announcing its final judgement. On the other hand, Muckle LLP, for instance, offers several days of work experience in the final stage for its solicitor apprenticeship recruitment, a rarity allowing candidates to demonstrate employability and interpersonal skills in practice.

Middle-sized firms can also cater for the needs of all categories of applicants, be it in the form of

  • running short insight schemes for A-Level students and pupils in Years 10 and 11 (e.g. Thomson Snell & Passmore and Wilkin Chapman); or
  • standardly hosting work experience placements, Vacation Schemes and Training Contracts for undergraduates and postgraduates (e.g. Ashtons Legal and Lanyon Bowdler).

With the recent soar in popularity of legal apprenticeships, we ought to note that a handful of middle-sized firms were already in the apprenticeship thread of the legal market. Some of the names associated with such programmes are Blacks Solicitors LLP, Sintons LLP, Ison Harrison and FBC Manby Bowdler and it is advisable not to underestimate working in a more closely-knitted team with increased responsibility for tasks.

How to Research Mid-Sized Firms?

One way to do so is to rely on the annually updated rankings by The Lawyer, where the top 200 law firms in the UK are hierarchically listed based on their profit, many of whom are middle-sized enterprises. Alternately, using the Legal 500 to filter legal businesses by geographic regions and practice areas will also sieve out the names of medium-scaled law firms and you will then need to check each one individually to decide whether it parallels with your preferences.