Legal Recruitment: Reflections and Predictions

Interlink Recruitment06 January 2020

Happy New Year! January is always the biggest month for movers and shakers across all industries, and legal is no exception. Our team are already busy with an influx of legal candidates looking for new roles. With the start of the new year and the new decade, we had a quick word with a few of our consultants to share some of the challenges that shaped legal recruitment in 2019, plus what they predict 2020 may bring. Here’s what they had to say…

James Hutchinson – Recruitment Consultant specialising in Personal Injury

“Without doubt, the pending whiplash reforms were a big challenge in 2019. Most candidates that I speak with in the PI sector have concerns over whether it is a sustainable market in the long run. They are therefore, either actively looking to move away from PI completely and re-train into another practice area or, are looking for a PI role that is reform-proof, such as Serious injury for example. The challenge for clients this year and probably until the reforms come into force, is that they still have a lot of ongoing personal injury work and roles to fill. However, with the current climate there are a lack of candidates to fill the positions.
Looking ahead optimistically, the reforms are coming into play and that is a fact; it’s just a matter of when. There’s so much uncertainty in the market at the moment, with both clients and candidates, that it can only be a good thing the reforms finally come into force. At least then, everyone knows where they stand and can move forward. I am hopeful and believe that once that happens, the market will pick up again.”

Gary Mullen – Senior Recruitment Consultant recruiting for Corporate Lawyers in London
“I think a big challenge from 2019 is being able to give staff that ‘something different’ which other employers don’t. The legal market is extremely busy, and candidates can have multiple offers at any one time. Therefore, clients need to expand what’s on the table for candidates, to be ahead of their competitors. This can be more than salary and benefits, with high-quality work, career development initiatives and flexible working being just as much sought after.
Looking at the market conditions for 2020, it’s extremely busy at the moment and there is a constant flow of roles at all levels. I am seeing more and more firms looking to expand their London presence through recruiting Senior Lawyers. I think going into 2020, we are going to see a domino effect in senior hires throughout the market, across multiple different sectors. Recruitment for law firms is going to remain challenging next year. The biggest reason for that is firms are looking to grow, however they want to grow with great people, and the right people for their firm. Finding those people is tough in such a saturated market, but that just adds to the fun.”

Nick Carroll – Head of National Conveyancing Recruitment
2019 was another busy year and quite simply, one of the biggest challenges was the uncertainty around Brexit. A number of my clients had been waiting to see if a deal could be done and how it would affect the market. Some of this uncertainty is likely to carry through into this year. We also saw in 2019, consolidation of the conveyancing market in some quarters, with large mergers between a number of top 20 firms.
I’m sure 2020 will bring us another interesting year. It is likely to be a candidate-driven market as firms look to bring in high-quality experienced candidates. Competition will be high as agencies fight to attract and work the best candidates on the market.”

Daniyal Aziz - Recruitment Consultant specialising in recruiting lawyers across Asia.
“One of my key markets is Hong Kong. Recruitment had slowed down immensely here towards the middle of 2019 as a result of the US-China trade war, the protests and general current economic landscape. Firms had put their roles on hold as the uncertainty of the situation grew. Since the election results, which favoured a pro-democracy candidate, things have steadily picked up in the region. To some degree, Hong Kong relies on expats to fill some of their highly skilled job roles. When the protests were in full swing, candidates preferred to go to other finance hubs like Singapore instead, making it even more difficult for firms to attract the necessary skilled talent from abroad.
Looking ahead to 2020, it will be a big year for almost every industry. Within legal, I can picture technology holding more and more importance, and being the topic of major discussions on the international stage. The magic circle and US firms will continue to lead the way in integrating technology and AI into their way of working, and the mid-market firms will continue to follow hot on their heels. Many tasks that were previously undertaken by someone under a paralegal or legal assistant capacity will now be performed at a cost effective, quicker and more accurate rate due to automation. This may lead to a gradual decline in the number of paralegal roles advertised, however I predict it will create extra jobs within law firms as the different integrated technologies require more specialised IT staff to sustain efficient operations.”

Contact us today if you’re a legal professional looking for a new opportunity in 2020. We work with lawyers of all levels, across all disciplines, across the country and the world. We also place Paralegals and support staff, helping law firms fill those all-important back office positions.
Get in touch with us to talk with one of our professional
legal recruitment consultants and get your legal job search started!

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