Current Legal Recruitment Climate in England – July 2008

We are currently in the throws of the Credit Crunch and Solicitors practices are having to adapt their business plans in the light of the current economic climate.

The area that has been hit hardest has been Property, and there have been extensive redundancies made, especially in the Residential property sector. In Commercial Property the market is flat especially in Sales and Acquisitions, Property Finance and Property Development. Landlord and Tenant work is holding out and there are still some legal vacancies in this sector.

Areas of growth judging by legal recruitment demand are for Solicitors with Insolvency and Contentious Property/Construction litigation experience. This is a natural result of the economic client and legal practices are being proactive in respond to demand for services in these area. legal recruitment agencies have seen the number of legal jobs in these areas rise dramatically in recent months. The demand has generally been for those Solicitors who have specialized in these areas in previous legal jobs, and would be able to hit the ground running on a general Insolvency caseload. However, there is a higher demand for those Solicitors with Commercial Insolvency/Corporate Recovery experience rather than Personal Insolvency.

Legal recruitment agencies are also reporting that they have a number of legal jobs available for contentious Construction Solicitors. Those candidates with arbitration experience are especially sought after at present. The positions tend to be in the London practices and the larger regional firms.

In recent years practices have tended to be short of candidates around the 2-5years PQE point, this has changed slightly and there is a good number of legal vacancies for Newly Qualified Solicitors in addition to experienced candidates with followings.

Employment law is another area in which the number of legal jobs available seems to be outstripping supply of experienced candidates. As commercial firms are making redundancies, and new employment legislation is making its way to the statute books almost daily, demand for Employment legal services is growing.

The Banking and Corporate market has slowed but not to the extent that property has. Firms are not making larger scale redundancies as yet but there is no particular demand for extra legal staff in these departments.

Personal Injury has remained steady and this sector has in particular taken advantage of the number of law and LPC graduates who cannot find training contracts, and taken them on as case handlers for the small and fast track work. Indeed, the growth of the career paralegal that is so prevalent in US legal firms will continue to develop within the United Kingdom. Areas such as Wills and Probate, Family and Crime are also utilizing Paralegals more.

Overall, legal practices have shown themselves quick to adapt to new circumstances and as certain avenues of work close, new opportunities present themselves. While new legal jobs and the need for legal recruitment as a whole has dropped, there is still good demand in certain areas and quality candidates will always find themselves a legal job.