I recently read an interesting article in The Lawyer magazine, commenting on Leeds ‘taking a harder knock from the slump than its regional peers’ (http://www.thelawyer.com/analysis/market-analysis/regions/uk-analysis/leeds-ridings-of-the-storm/3023069.article). The article looks at the falling headcount in Yorkshire law firms, observing “staff numbers have decreased markedly in the past 5 years”. I thought it interesting to have a look at the data we have gathered on recruitment activity across the Yorkshire region from an in house sector perspective.
Certainly from a purely anecdotal viewpoint we have seen many examples of organisations hiring a lawyer for the first time (MRC Transmark, Severfield Rowan, Bridon, B Braun Medical to name just a few). These first time counsel appointments additionally often grow the nascent legal function with the addition of a junior lawyer within a relatively short timescale. We have also seen a number of companies with established legal teams grow significantly, due to increasing business activity, or greater use of the legal team. Some examples I can point to are the teams at Morrisons, Callcredit, Communisis, Hermes Parcelnet, Yorkshire Building Society and HSBC, all with significant head count increases.
Looking at the numbers, we have witnessed a sizeable 80% increase in legal vacancies across the Yorkshire in house market (Q1/Q2 of 2013, compared to Q1/Q2 of 2014). In part many of these were new positions as the ‘recruitment tap’ has been switched on again, however there have also been a number of positions to refill as the candidate pool gains confidence in the economic revival and more individuals move jobs.
Additionally the increasing regulatory demands of the business landscape over the past few years has been a key driver for in-house recruitment across the UK, so with an economic upswing we are seeing many more job opportunities for in house counsel, and this looks like it will continue throughout 2014. Long may this be the case – especially for the Yorkshire region.