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BCL Legal will be increasing the size of our transactional recruitment team in Birmingham from January. Such is the flow of work in commercial property, corporate, commercial, banking, tax and pensions that we will have two consultants solely focussed on this area of work. I am pretty sure that I am currently the only recruitment consultant in Birmingham that focusses exclusively on recruiting solicitors in these areas of law – so to have two of us with be completely unique.
As 2013 draws to a close BCL Legal remain very busy recruiting for solicitors at all levels across a variety of commercial disciplines. I currently have roles for corporate, commercial, real estate and banking.
So what does 2014 hold in store for the legal profession? As far as recruitment is concerned the future looks bright, with a world of opportunity ahead. Nearly all of the major law firms seem to be recruiting heavily into commercial property positions. A number are also looking to bolster their corporate, finance and commercial offerings. There are still substantial gaps created by the recession and so solicitors who qualified in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 are particularly sought after. If you are a solicitor who qualified in those years and were able to gain good stable experience in corporate, commercial, construction, real estate or banking then massive opportunities exist. Certainly those candidates at mid tier firms who wish to make a step up to a national or international practice will find plenty of options. BCL Legal are, of course, happy to discuss those options with you.
Throughout 2013 we have also seem a gradual increase in roles aimed at more experienced candidates. These have included several roles as effective number 2’s in a department – that naturally offer reasonably quick progression to Partnership. It seems that an improving economy is leading to more transactional work and some teams lack sufficient experienced resource to lead on transactions/ deals.
Nor is the good news limited to those high profile firms operating in city centres. Improvements in trading conditions for SME and OMB clients has yielded additional work for a number of the Midlands smaller legal practices, resulting in an increase in recruitment for these firms. Whilst much of this has been property focussed, there has been some recruitment into other transactional areas; particularly company commercial roles.
So it’s all good news?
There does seem to remain some concern in the market place regarding salaries in the Midlands. Certainly salaries appear to have remained reasonably stagnant with the region’s Tier 1 firms. The result is that the Tier 2 firms are now paying the same or (in some cases) more but this was also the case last year. Interestingly the pay gap between a working for a leading regional firm and an international firm is as small now as it has ever been.
Equally smaller commercial practices and mixed offering practices have remained fairly static in pay. There increase in workload has only really come about in the last half of the year.
What does this mean for 2014?
It seems clear that this years’ March and September qualifies are going to have some excellent opportunities to qualify into transactional roles with leading legal practices. There should be some fantastic opportunities for people to step up into leading firms, or to make sideways moves if they are unsuccessful in securing something with their training firm.
The requirement for 2-5 PQE solicitors is likely to continue – as is the candidate shortage at this level. Equally teams will be looking to bolster their expertise at the more experienced level to ensure they can continue to offer excellent client service.
It also seems inconceivable that salaries can remain static in such a candidate short market place. The challenges raised by increased opportunities in London and within Midlands based in-house teams mean that Midlands firms have a real risk of loosing their top talent if base salaries are not increased.
Given that December has seen an almost continuous flow of new instructions from our clients; it is difficult to imagine that 2014 isn’t going to continue in the same way, with opportunities in abundance across the full range of transactional disciplines.