Legal Recruitment in Scotland

Jack Tierney, Recruitment Consultant08 March 2021

The legal market has fared better than most feared throughout the pandemic and has been operating fairly smoothly in recent months. Here at Interlink, we have definitely seen the opportunity for more conversations, and to develop relationships with firms and lawyers who we have never worked with before. One such area where we have turned our focus, is Scotland.
We have since assigned a dedicated and experienced team, to focus solely on the needs of our Scottish clients and help them with legal recruitment in Scotland.

The lie of the Scottish legal landscape

As many know, Scotland boasts a diverse range of law firms from sole practitioners and boutique firms, to your international heavyweights such as Pinsent Masons, Dentons and CMS.
Geographically, national firms are predominantly based in the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee. That is not to say that the more rural areas are underserviced. For example, Harper Macleod have offices in the Highlands and Shetland Islands, while other renowned firms such as Blackadders, Thorntons and Aberdein Considine have several offices across Scotland’s smaller towns. Additionally, a great number of traditional Solicitor/Estate agency practices continue to operate successfully in these less populated areas.

The impact of Covid on Scottish law firms
The Law Society of Scotland published the results of a second survey back in December, which looked into the financial impact of Covid-19 in private practice law firms. The overarching outcome of the survey was that law firms were seeing an increase in workloads.  However, from a financial perspective, the signs of recovery were still yet to be seen.
Looking more closely at some of the results and feedback from the survey, it was encouraging to learn fewer law firms had put a hold on their recruitment plans. In the early part of lockdown, around 60% of firms had a recruitment freeze, compared to 45% of respondents in October when the survey took place.
And much like England, the busiest practice areas were clearly stemming from property sales and family law, each seeing an increase in work since April last year. Criminal defence work was slightly more unstable with some firms seeing an increase in businesses, with others a significant decrease.

Working practices impacted by Covid
Due to the impact of Covid-19 and everybody forced to work remotely, we have seen a large number of Senior Solicitors and Partners transition from a traditional law firm setting, over to a virtual consultancy model in England and Wales over the last 12 months. Scotland is starting to see this shift as well, with several key clients recognising the huge potential of an untapped market.
There are many talented lawyers who simply haven’t been made aware of this new style of law firm. As such, our clients have decided to branch out into the main ‘hubs’ of Scotland, and it is only a matter of time before we start to see a large shift of legal professionals from traditional law firms, over to consultancy models.

Commute less, earn more
It might be no surprise to learn that I help such consultancy firms recruit lawyers with the relevant amount of experience, commercial aptitude, and desire to earn. I know first-hand that candidates are seeing these consultancy setups as a pathway to increasing their take-home pay and having the flexibility to run their own diary. They also have the choice about how they work, which is often unheard of in traditional law firms. Whether it’s spending more time with the family, being able to work from home, or attending the office when needed, consultancy lawyers have that genuine flexibility.
I am finding those who are most attracted to the consultancy model, are more likely to be senior lawyers who feel undervalued and over worked.
Their draw to this new of way delivering legal services is the opportunity to take the step up to running their own practice, increase their pay and have a much better work/life balance. Something with lawyers in Scotland will no doubt be interested in, too.

If you are a senior lawyer in Scotland or a Partner at a Scottish law firm, and you would like to learn more about the opportunities with a consultancy law firm, speak with Jack Tierney at Interlink. Call him in confidence on 0161 827 4374 or send an email to, jack.tierney@interlinkrecruitment.com.   


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