The private practice market is active with firms creating new roles to cater for the influx of work. The most active areas of recruitment are for Lawyers with three to five years PQE and Senior Associates in banking and finance, corporate M&A, and construction and property.
Partners are also moving and typically they take their teams with them, which is creating a lot of turnover in the market.
Firms are moving quickly when they see good candidates and are open to looking at overseas candidates from the UK and New Zealand in order to meet demand.
Within the in-house market legal teams are being encouraged to keep costs to a minimum which means external spending to firms is reducing. In some cases employers are instead adding more specific roles to their own legal team.
We’re also seeing employers become far more specific when recruiting for General Counsel and ‘Head of’ roles. Specialist skills such as property, contracts and M&A as well as a top-tier background are often requested.
The number of contract roles is increasing. Typically these are six to 12 month contracts, which allow an organisation to trial a candidate in the role.
In terms of skills in demand for the July to September 2015 quarter, we’re seeing high demand in the in-house market for Compliance Officers with a legal background since compliance is fundamental to all businesses.
Also in demand are Senior Legal Counsels and General Counsels. There are more roles on offer at this level than we have seen in recent years due to movement in the market as well as organisations introducing in-house functions.
Lawyers with consumer law, regulatory and trade practises experience are also in demand, especially across FMCG, consumer goods and pharma industries.
Within private practice, general Banking & Finance Lawyers are needed at the mid and Senior Associate levels. Often these Lawyers relocate to London or New York, or step out of private practice into in-house roles. Firms are looking for good candidates who have a background in leveraged finance, property or project finance. Given the local skills shortage in this area they will sponsor candidates who are UK qualified.
General Commercial Lawyers with a combination of corporate and IP skills are also needed for contract in-house roles by organisations that want to keep their external legal spend down, and need good commercial and IP experts to assist with the law around technology. Contracts also allow a company to trial a Lawyer for a set period of time, which can also assist with cash flow and expectations.
Construction Lawyers at the mid and Senior Associate levels are sought in private practice due to the increase in property and construction developments. For the same reason, Property Lawyers at the mid and Senior Associate levels are needed.
Corporate M&A Lawyers at the mid and Senior Associate levels are also needed thanks to an increase in corporate transactions, joint ventures, acquisitions and transactional work resulting from renewed confidence in the market.
Partners across all areas of law with revenue and client portfolios to transfer are sought by firms that want to expand their client base. There is competition in the market and therefore firms want to bring Partners on board who have a steady stream of revenue.
In terms of candidate trends, lawyers with between three and five years PQE often move overseas for work and to travel, which creates a shortage of candidates at this level in the Australian market, particularly in private practice.
For candidates wishing to secure an in-house role, a combination of top-tier and in-house experience is usually required.
Those candidates staying in private practice look for firms that provide great mentorship and clear career paths to progression. Working with open partners who are keen to train and mentor is critical to them.