The Great Resignation in the UK

What is The Great Resignation?

Over the past year there has been a dramatic increase in the resignation of employees. This is due to burnout and a change in priorities for the workers of our country following the Covid-19 pandemic, with a greater value being placed on work-life balance. This has led to the Great Resignation in the UK as well as many other countries around the world, in which almost a quarter of UK workers are considering a change of career in 2022, creating an increase in firm vacancies.

The Difficulties of Hiring New Employees

Employers have found it difficult to replace the wave of workers who resigned in The Great Resignation, which began last year and hasn’t let up since. In the UK, reports are showing that people are resigning at the highest rate since 2009. This has left gaping holes in the workforce, across all sectors.

There are countless stories of executives desperately trying to hire people, looking for a combination of senior-level members as well as more junior staff. However, despite their efforts, the pool of candidates is running dry. In the legal sector, the Great Resignation has widened the gap between the supply and demand of legal workers, forcing employers to resort to extreme incentives to recruit as many Lawyers as possible.

This is not just a problem for the smaller firms but also large Magic Circle and US firms. For example, the recent rise in the Cravath Scale reflects the competitive market, in which law firms are having to go above and beyond to attract the best talent to their firm. However, this may not be the right tactic, with many employees beginning to look for more from their job than a high remuneration package. Will Lawyers tolerate the high stress levels and workload of these firms in return for a high salary?

It’s now very common for law firms at all levels to consider candidates and make hires even when they may be so fortunate to not need them, simply as the current market requires them to acquire talent whenever they can.

Struggling to Retain Talent

These days you’ll hear how it’s never been harder or more expensive to hire new people due to a combination of recruitment fees, training and start-up processes, as well as many more background costs.

It’s also commonplace for law firms to put in maximum effort to retain who they already have, providing incentives and flexible working environments to meet their needs. However, with flexible conditions being detrimental to the workplace culture, many employees do not feel the same loyalty or connection to their firm. For this reason, they are more likely to leave for a firm that are offering a bigger salary or benefits package. 

The Future of the Market

It is becoming clear that the skills shortage is likely to worsen before it gets better and the competition to recruit will become unprecedentedly fierce. The market is becoming very candidate led, in which Lawyers have the power in the process, in which top talent can pick and choose which firm to work for and negotiate a very beneficial salary and benefits package when starting at a firm. Combined with the struggle of maintaining a strong work culture in flexible working conditions, we are likely to see a large number of frequent moves from legal professionals, unless firms find a way to maintain their work culture remotely.


Contact Us

Kean Smith is a Legal Recruitment Consultant with a focus on finding the best opportunities for Lawyers in the North of England. If you are a Lawyer looking to progress your career, contact Kean at to discuss your career goals and find out more about the options available to you.

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