Ex-A&O lawyer moves to Manchester

Nick Jones trained at A&O in London and moved to Barlow Lyde & Gilbert for a few years, before heading north to Addleshaw Goddard in Manchester for personal reasons.  We asked him about the differences between living and working in London v Manchester…


mtl:  Hi Nick, please can you start at the beginning of your legal career?


Nick:  I studied English and then did the conversion course at City University as I’d always thought about doing law.  There wasn’t anything else I wanted to do when I graduated, I thought it would be a good career for a couple of years and that if liked it I would continue with it - which I did and have. 


I trained at Allen & Overy and wanted to qualify into litigation because I found it more creative (and less frustrating) than transactional work.  There is more “law” in litigation and I enjoy applying legal principles creatively, playing the game in grey areas and thinking strategically.  It is also the practice area that I felt was most like my degree course in that it involves reading a lot, constructing arguments and writing lengthy documents e.g. witness statements. 


Rather than joining a finance team at A&O, I moved on qualification to Barlow, Lyde & Gilbert.  I stayed there for 2 years and really enjoyed it, partly because I had international, high value work and was able to travel with work.  


mtl:  So why the move to Manchester?


Nick:  My fiancé is from Manchester and although she had moved down to London, she was keen to go back.  At the end of 2006 I agreed to give it a go and to move there.  I chose Addleshaw Goddard as (with DLA) they have the best work in Manchester and because it’s a firm which does attract international work.  I applied directly for an advertised position, so didn’t have to go through any local recruiters, and started in February 2007.  I’m sure that my London experience helped me get the job as time in the City is seen as useful and valuable. 


mtl:  How does living and working in Manchester compare to London?




Career timeline


1997 – 2000

English, Downing College, Cambridge


2000 – 2001

Conversion, City University


2001 – 2002

LPC, Nottingham Law School


2003 – 2005

Training contract, Allen & Overy


2005 – 2007

Litigation Associate, Barlow, Lyde & Gilbert



Litigation Associate, Addleshaw Goddard, Manchester


Nick:  I find that working in Manchester is no different really.  The Addleshaw Goddard litigation department is set up as one team despite its three offices, so the work is similar for all assistants.  I perhaps have more of a range of clients and on average I work on smaller and lower value matters than I would do in London, though this is changing and we are seeing some more complex work at the moment. 


I have been very busy since June 2008, so the hours have been similar to London recently but I think on average there is a better work/life balance.  I think you’d only notice a big difference on that front though if you went to a small Manchester firm.   So I would say that the major difference is the salary – I took a  pay 20% pay cut when I moved here.  Living expenses are the same, but property is cheaper and you definitely get more for your money when buying a house.  However I’m probably a bit worse off than if I was working in the City.


The advantage is the better quality of life as there is a more relaxed lifestyle up here and it is easier to get in and out of the city, so there is less stress from day to day life.  There is also no such thing as “face time” in my office and people are genuinely friendlier and more open.  If you don’t want to be in London then it’s a great place to be as it’s still a major financial centre.


The disadvantages for me of living in Manchester are that my friends and family are in London and the weather is terrible!  I do miss the buzz of working in the City and the slightly manic and cosmopolitan nature of London, though I come down for work and to see people fairly regularly.


mtl:  Thanks for your time Nick.


If you know any other lawyers who have gone and done something interesting or unusual with their lives or who have a great work/life balance then please get in touch.





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