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The shifting landscape in the Midlands legal market.
The legal market in the Midlands is changing. We’ve probably been saying that since the recession began but now its changing and the change is positive. So what do I mean?
My responsibilities at BCL Legal include recruiting for roles in corporate, commercial, real estate, banking, tax, pensions, employment and construction. So for the most part I work with the large commercial practices in Birmingham and Nottingham. As well as the commercially focussed firms across the rest of the West, East and South Midlands.
The change I am seeing at the moment is as dramatic as any point in the last few years.
Pressure on fees means that the traditional Tier 1 Midlands firms are benefiting from an increasing flow of work out of their London and International offices. Many of these firms are now operating “one team” or “go to team” departments within their Midlands offices that are facilitating the transfer of work in scenario’s where clients want a more cost effective solution. The net result for these firms is two fold. Firstly an increased complexity/ value to the work that they are undertaking in Midlands offices. Additionally they have a competitive advantage over firms without regional offices, which are facilitating bigger clients wins.
For our candidates who are looking to relocate out of London (or back home from abroad) this is providing real opportunities to undertake the relocation without having to compromise on the level or complexity of work that they undertake. Alas the salary differential is unlikely to change in the near future.
An additional effect is that many of the traditional Tier 2 firms are starting to notice an increased ability to win higher value work from local Midlands or national sources. Generally speaking their fee rates are cheaper than the Tier 1 firms. The net result is that teams are growing and salaries for employees are rising. As this years’ NQ’s begin to qualify we expect to see very little difference (if any) between salaries that are on offer at Tier 1 and Tier 2 firms.
This also means that there is increased demand at Tier 2 firms for solicitors who have experience of advising these types of clients. Certainly we are seeing increasing opportunities for senior associate level candidates from international firms to move into junior Partnership positions at national practices.
The overall picture then for the Midlands legal market looks good. With changes to transportation infrastructure occurring in the near future that will bring Birmingham and London even closer together these changes only look set to continue. Hopefully this means increasing quality of work and higher fees available across the board for Midlands’s law firms. It is to be hoped that this is represented by further increases in salaries for the regions solicitors.
Whilst we are no means back to the heady days of 2005-2007 and I imagine it will still be a few years before salaries and work flows return to those sort of levels (if ever). The current changes in the landscape all look positive and set to continue for the foreseeable future.
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