A beginner's guide to Bournemouth

If you prefer a bracing sea breeze to the Big Smoke, Bournemouth might just be a prime location to get immersed in some heavy-duty lawyering.

Forget dreary images of a faded seaside town with limp chips and drizzle; behind the seafront Bournemouth is a bustling business hub, with financial services playing a key part in the local economy. Insurance moguls Liverpool Victoria and building society Nationwide are big employers in the town, and you'll also find a branch of US banking heavyweight J.P. Morgan.

Of course, tourism and the leisure industry remain very important to Bournemouth. While the town has historically been viewed as a place for retirement, its two universities and wealth of English language schools have resulted in a significant increase in the student population. The Bournemouth International Centre, the largest venue on the south coast, regularly plays host to big events – it's been used for party conferences by Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories, as well as gigs by everybody from Little Mix to Barry Manilow.

Bournemouth today is a bona fide nightlife hotspot, having cultivated a rep as a popular destination for stag and hen rampages – some reckon it sees more of them than Ibiza. Luckily it's earned a 'Purple Flag' award denoting its ability to provide an enjoyable and safe night out. This is reassuring – no trainee wants to get garrotted by a garter or bludgeoned with a suggestive inflatable toy on an innocent jaunt to Yates' Wine Lodge after a hard day of bundling.

Speaking of Bournemouth-based solicitors, it's worth having a nose around the local clientèle if you think you might head to the area for a training contract. At Lester Aldridge big nameson the client books have included retirement home developer McCarthy & Stone,Bournemouth University and Meggitt an aerospace technology company based at Bournemouth airport. LA has also done work for Santander, Lloyd's TSB and mobile phone company 3.

Fun things to do in the area include, but are certainly not limited to...

  • A night at Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra – this is the country's only symphony orchestra outside a major city.

  • A date at the Pavilion Theatre – good for taking in an opera, ballet, some comedy or even a dinner dance.

  • A jaunt to the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum – originally the home of a couple of Victorian collectors, this is an exotic-looking seaside villa filled with curious objects from around the world.

  • A dance at the O2 Academy Bournemouth – it's hosted artists like Rizzle Kicks, Jess Glynne and Public Enemy in the last year.

  • A class at Flavours School of Cookery – whether you fancy yourself as an artisan bread maker or a master of Moroccan cuisine, there's something for you.

  • A romp on a jet ski safari – the perfect antidote to a tense M&A deal, we reckon.