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Leicester – what can we say? Having spent 10 years of my life living, working and studying in and around the city, I can give a fairly neutral perspective on it. I wasn’t particularly fond of Leicester – it is fairly chilly most of the year courtesy of a wind blowing off the North Sea some distance away and the architecture/planning leaves a lot to be desired – but it is possibly the most multi-cultural area of the UK. This is something to experience and when you move away you really do miss it.
The countryside around Leicester is nice, albeit a bit flat, and you can feel a bit isolated at times – Leicester is not situated near a lot of other places – although Cambridge is about 90 mins away and the Peak District c.2 hours.
The Legal Job Market in Leicester
So what does Leicester have to offer if you decide to relocate here? There are some larger sized solicitors firms located in the city. Most have changed their name in recent years but all are regional practices with head offices elsewhere.
Quite a few of the better known Nottingham solicitors firms also have branch offices in Leicester city centre, but there are few firms who can actually claim to be commercial law firms with a specific base in the city rather than elsewhere. I could write the names of the various firms here, but chances are they will have changed their identities in the next few years and this page will have to be rewritten!
I cannot suggest to anyone that it would be a good idea to relocate to Leicester to increase your salary levels or job prospects unless you are a specialist in a niche commercial area and you discover a market in the city. Salaries at most firms tend to be significantly lower than other areas – Leicester has always played the ‘poor cousin’ to Birmingham and Nottingham. Law firms always seem surprised that there are not many NQ solicitors left for example who are prepared to work for £20k.
Housing is not exactly cheap in the area, but you would think so when comparing the prices with the average salary at a lot of law firms in the city. Conveyancing solicitors are lucky to be earning £40k in Leicester, whereas this is fairly normal in other parts of the Midlands including Birmingham and Nottingham. Derby has a similar problem to Leicester and wages tend to be comparable here.
We have locums registered with us who actually refuse to even consider locum solicitor posts in Leicester, and understandably so. We have had some interesting experiences with law firms looking for 15 year PQE commercial property solicitors willing to work for £20 per hour. Naturally there are also firms who are more realistic! We started out in Leicester with our first office in Oadby in 2000 so we know the city well. To find legal jobs in the area please email your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to do
Attractions in Leicester include: The National Space Centre – thoroughly recommended – children and adults alike will be amazed and enthralled by it. Lets hope the council don’t decide to close it – fortunately it seems to come in for funding from Leicester University and Leicester City Council. Leicestershire County Council have recently closed an award winning science/discovery park in nearby Coalville and have failed to put very much money or effort behind their other tourism jewel – Conkers – which seemed to be falling to pieces last time we visited!
The Richard III centre has been criticised locally for the amazing price being charged to get in. In a similar way to Alton Towers – you don’t seem to get a lot for your money.
Places to go around Leicester include Bradgate Park, a beautiful country park for a wander, Foxton Locks – one of the longest flight of locks on the canal system, the gated village of Rolleston – worth a walk to on an autumn day, Twycross Zoo – looking a lot better these days, and Conkers – an environmentally friendly fun park that has seen better days. The National Forest is not far off and is getting wilder every time we visit.
If you can – and here is an insider tip – go and find the paternoster lift at Leicester University. There really is nothing quite like it. Not sure if you can still get into the towerblock that contains it – but it used to be fairly easy to wander in!
Shopping in Leicester is quite impressive – the council redeveloped the shopping centre some years ago, demolishing the city centre swimming baths to do so – and John Lewis moved in. This has had the effect of ensuring that most shops have remained in the centre and not moved out to the out of town shopping complex/car park called Fosse Park – somewhere to avoid like the plague at weekends unless you like sitting in traffic jams for hours on end!
Where to live?
There are places to avoid and others that are very reasonably priced if you like living next door to students! The areas with a reputation of being a bit rougher are Highfields, Evington, Beaumont Leys, Saffron Lane, Braunstone and the St Matthews Estate (I believe this was one of the top ten most deprived areas of the UK at one point). Some of these locations are seriously rough and best avoided if planning to rent or buy or thinking about shooting a film on urban deprivation..
Nicer areas include Oadby, Wigston, Stoneygate, Clarendon Park, Blaby and most villages situated more than 2 miles away from the city centre. Any location on the way to Market Harborough is usually nice – Kibworth Beauchamp for example – and also on the Hinckley side. Commuting can be fun – the roads are pretty awful and traffic can be horrendous in the city and Leicestershire generally.
House prices are not cheap – they shot up in the late 1990s and landlords seem to have bought up a lot of the terraced housing stock.
If planning to stay in the area you may want to consider a Premier Inn, which are very reasonably priced. There are some seriously dodgy hotels lurking around the city so be careful!
One thing Leicester is good for is sports – and lots of it. Leicester City are fairly well known (particularly after the 2015-2016 season) and no doubt tickets will be easier to get in future years when they are back in the reality of mid to lower table mediocrity again. Leicestershire Cricket Club is located at Grace Road, a particularly nice ground, and you will be guaranteed tickets here if they are at home playing in the County Championship to an audience of a few pensioners and their dogs. There are plenty of gyms in and around the city centre.
This article has been written by Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. Jonathan studied at Leicester University (and De Montfort University) and completed his training contract in the city before moving on to pastures new.