Articles From the Team
I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. Since January 2017, I have been responsible for our coverage for private practice clients and candidates in Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Guildford. After 6 years’ spent exclusively covering the East and West Midlands, it is fair to say that I have had a fair bit to learn about the new locations I would be covering.
Places like Oxford (everyone has heard of the University) and Guildford (all lawyers have heard about the law school) were reasonably well known to me. However, Reading was something of an unknown. Sure it is close to Lego Land and there are reasonably successful football and rugby teams but other than that, I didn’t know a lot. In the last 10 months I’ve learned a lot about this vibrant and growing town and so I thought it was worth sharing, so that others can get to know Reading better. This is important because as the biggest town in the UK, on the door step of the UK’s Silicon Valley and with excellent proximity to London, Reading is growing at a faster pace than any other city or large town in the UK. In short it is rapidly becoming one of the places “to be”.
Reading’s links to the technology sector are clear see with an estimated 25% of Regional Gross Value Added (GVA) attributed to the Digital sector. As a result Reading is also home to a higher than normal proportion of start ups and SMES and is recognised as one of the top locations in the country in which to start a small business. The high proportion of growing businesses has the effect of attracting significant domestic and foreign investment to the town and of creating jobs. Indeed Reading’s levels of employment are reported to be growing at 0.9% per annum which is higher than any other large town or city in the UK.
Significant regeneration of business premises and proximity to the capital has meant that the town has been able to attract significant numbers of new employers. This includes US owned software businesses, UK based law firms, multi national financial services providers and Swedish furniture retailers to name a few.
So what does this mean for lawyers in Reading? Technology and IT companies tend to produce a product which crosses international boundaries; so much of the legal work has international connotations. Overheads in Reading are cheaper than the City, yet the train to Paddington takes less than 30 minutes. Therefore, law firms in the town are ideally positioned to provide legal services but at a much cheaper cost. No surprise then to see firms with national reputations like Osborne Clarke and the newly merged CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang seeking to grow their teams. Or to see ambitious growing law firms like Gateley and Harrison Clark Rickerbys opening offices in the town. Existing Reading stall warts like Field Seymour Parkes have impressive offerings for commercial clients, whilst Boyes Turner have been recognised on several occasions as the best “regional law firm” in the UK.
Whilst salaries for lawyers in Reading are roughly around 33% lower than those on offer in the City (see the point on overheads above) the average property prices are around half of those in the capital, making this a much more comfortable trade off than many would imagine. Especially when one considers that you can generally live closer to the office (lower commuting cost) and that the cost of everything else (from a pint of beer to a slice of Pizza) is also generally cheaper. When one considers that there are regular direct trains into London and the proximity to Lego Land, it is not hard to see why Reading is a popular with those looking to leave London in order to raise families.
My first 10 months covering Reading have been fantastic and BCL Legal’s activity in the region is set to have to grown by over 400% by the end of 2017. So if you are a lawyer who wants to live in an affordable region, work for a great firm and be in a vibrant growing market place, please bear Reading in mind. If you’ve enjoyed reading about Reading and think it could be the place for you, please do get in touch.
Nicholas Fear - Senior Associate – 0121 23 75612