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The legal market in 2014 has so far been incredibly busy. With more work around, particularly in transactional areas, solicitors have been increasingly busy and with greater work loads this means often working longer hours. Lawyers in corporate and real estate in particular, are undoubtedly much busier than they have been in recent years. The recession forced many law firms to freeze their pay scales and a significant proportion of solicitors did not received pay rises for many years. With longer hours, an improved legal market and teams being squeezed, lawyers are of course starting to ask if they can finally now earn more money by moving elsewhere.
Areas in demand are currently real estate and corporate, and more niche transactional areas such as banking and construction. Patterns are the same across firms of all sizes, from the top tier to more niche and boutique practices, but as the market has improved it has become apparent that there is a frightening shortage of lawyers in the market to fill demand. This means positive news for lawyers at smaller firms looking for a step up. Lawyers in the top tier, working at firms including Addleshaw Goddard, Pinsent Masons and Eversheds, have always been well remunerated. As these top tier and other national firms generally have set pay bands for each level of PQE, if you are coming from a small firm on a relatively low salary, your pay rise could be significant.
So the improved legal market is undoubtedly positive news for solicitors at small or boutique law firms looking for a step up. With good experience in sought after areas, such as real estate and corporate, the national firms will be interested in you. They can offer excellent quality work, a fantastic portfolio of clients, and structured training and support to develop and progress in your legal career. With strong academics and solid transactional experience, if you are at a small firm now is the time to take a step up both in terms of firm and salary. As a rule of thumb lawyers with 2-5 years post qualification experience across busy areas are most sought after, but NQ solicitors and junior lawyers with good transactional experience will have options elsewhere.
We have recently placed a number of candidates in real estate and corporate roles who have managed to make the move from a small firm to the top tier and national practices. In one instance an NQ would have achieved c.£25,000 when qualifying at their current firm outside of town, but moved on qualification to the top tier on £37,000. The market remains busy, and with firms still recruiting now is the time so speak to us about your options as by looking elsewhere you could make a financially rewarding and career changing move.