Over the past year or so, subtle changes have been taking place in the job market for lawyers. Some of these are due to supply and demand factors while others are due to external influences such as “Brexit”. But, in general, the overall market for lawyers remains strong.
Overall market trends
Olsen Recruitment has noticed two apparent trends in the overall market – a somewhat reduced demand for conveyancing lawyers and an increased demand for employment lawyers.
In conveyancing, uncertainty about the effects of “Brexit” on the property market along with frequent negative headlines in the media has caused some firms to pause or delay their hiring plans. This has affected demand somewhat though there are still good opportunities – just fewer of them.
On the other hand opportunities for employment lawyers appear to be growing. This maybe partly due to many firms having not recruited or grown their teams during the recession and during the time period when the coalition government introduced employment tribunal fees (from 2013, until the u-turn in 2017). Because fewer firms trained up employment lawyers or encouraged their own junior lawyers to work in the employment field during that time period, a shortage now exists. As a result, there is a noticeable demand for employment lawyers in the desired 3-5 years’ PQE level and very few lawyers around with that level of experience.
Junior lawyer market (0-5 year PQE) observations
Junior lawyers have always moved more readily from one firm to another, but this has become more common in the last few years with some lawyers moving two or three times early in their careers. In our experience, the most common reason for moving is lack of progression. Often these lawyers are earning under £50K even when they are quite competent and can manage their work with a little supervision. They therefore expect better things. As a result, they are more willing to move to further their careers.
On the other side of the coin, this means that employers need to make a greater effort to retain 0-5 year PQEs by advancing promotion or other opportunities. Younger lawyers notice that a firm may have several promotional layers and that lawyers with ten years’ or more experience are often not equity partners – even though they are paid well, have a good client base and good billing numbers. They also notice in many firms with 50 or more employees, the path to partner can take up to 14 years and may be creeping higher. Of course other factors are involved here, but the one mentioned above is often the reason why firms lose junior lawyers.
We are always pleased to be contacted by clients, potential clients and candidates for further information about local market conditions. Call, text, email or Watsapp: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01603 516261. 07960 743650