Are the big firms back? For the first time in as long as anyone can remember, there seems to be some life coming into the Melbourne legal recruitment market.
While it might be an exaggeration to say it died, particularly while partner lateral movement has been at unprecedented highs, most commentators and job-seekers seem to agree that 2012 and 2013 have been some of the toughest years in living memory for the legal community, particularly for junior lawyers.
While we are far from proclaiming that the storm is over, for the first time this year there is a steady flow of new roles (some replacement and some newly created) making their way onto the Melbourne legal market. While small and boutique firms remained active, and mid-tiers dabbled consistently, for the first time we are starting to see some of the top and second tier firms dip their toes in it – albeit with some trepidation.
While the 3rd quarter is traditionally the strongest in legal markets and many predicted nothing would change pre-election, we have certainly seen a strong uplift both pre and post election (I think we can safely assume the market had already factored in a change of government.)
Areas coming slowly back into demand include corporate and other transactional areas (IT, IP, Projects and Finance). Others hit harder than anticipated, such as commercial disputes and insolvency, have also improved, while areas left less effected, such as employment law and insurance, remain steady. For the largest firms recruitment remains tentative, and for some freezes are not only still in place, but appear to have a way to go considering recent lowered profit reports by most of the top ten commercial firms.
Always a good time to consider a move, the strong months of October and November are presenting to lawyers as an ideal time to jump back into the market and take advantage of heightened levels of interest from the commercial firms. Surprisingly, firms are still struggling to find the right talent in a number of areas, including corporate commercial, property, insolvency, employment and litigation.
Who knows what the future market holds, and whether this is merely a large blip on an otherwise bleak long term outcome, but with financial commentators talking about the ASX back up near 6000 in the next 18 months, with large firms running pretty lean teams and the UK economy finally out of “intensive care” there’s certainly a lot of potential upside out there!