As June/July approached last year, it represented a real tide change as regards newly qualified roles. In previous years, as the economy faltered, retention levels fell and the landscape for those coming up to qualification looked increasingly bleak as corporate, real estate and banking could no longer sustain an influx of new lawyers. However, last year saw a marked improvement in both internal retention as well as external recruitment.
Primarily last years external recruitment centred around more niche areas including banking, construction and insolvency but it was clear that the overall market was much improved.
Among the top tier firms, Pinsent Masons, DLA, Eversheds, Addleshaw Goddard, there is a very clear internal process and time scale that will see the determination of internal vacancies throughout May and June resulting in the release of external vacancies (where required) in June/July. Firms outside the top tier are often not quite as structured and therefore can still be determining internal candidates into July.
The resultant effect is that in most cases external vacancies have historically been released in June.
Since the start of the year we have seen an increase in roles and activity across all levels and disciplines, admittedly with a huge bias towards Real Estate. Without question the signs of economic recovery are there and this has fuelled greater appetite for investors, developers and entrepreneurs. The North West has shown incredible promise with key property developments on the horizon as well as a number of high profile IPO’s (Pets at Home & AO). The North West and, in particular , the Manchester market has shown how attractive it can be to investment and there have been a number of new entrants into the market including TLT, BLP and most recently the announcement of Nabarro entering the fray. Nabarro have a fantastic reputation for real estate and in Mark Heywood (moving from Addleshaw Goddard) have attracted a real heavyweight. Whatever the motivation, with such a prominent real estate reputation, it is encouraging that they have the confidence in the local real estate market to warrant such a bold move.
All in all, the marked improvement has fuelled an increased demand at the NQ level and we have seen an unprecedented level of external NQ vacancies being released (not just in Manchester but nationally) and without doubt the NQ season has started early. This is likely a consequence of market correction to some degree with firms having lowered the number of trainees taken on such that the increased demand cannot be met by internal candidates alone. What it has also done is give rise to a position whereby, in some areas (particularly real estate – spot the common thread!) demand is outstripping supply. This is giving rise to opportunity for candidates to take a step up in terms of firm and quality of work.
That is not to say that all areas are alive with activity but the NQ season is very much underway and, if anything, stresses the need to be exploring opportunities sooner rather than later.
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