Sean Cully
Sean Cully
Senior Associate

Articles From the Team

2021 is shaping up to be a busy year for NQ recruitment

The recruitment of lawyers has reached its highest level since before the covid-19 pandemic forced the country into lockdown, according to new labour market data for England and Wales.

Recruitment levels in 2020’s quarter two fell by 74.3% quarter-on-quarter following a hit from the UK’s initial national lockdown in March last year, with year-on-year vacancies falling by one-third compared to 2019’s figures.

Despite the pandemic’s initial impact, the number of vacancies rose by 19% in February 2021, with 729 professional vacancies posted by top firms across England and Wales.

To date, 2021 has been exceptionally busy due to the hiatus in recruitment across many firms in 2020. This increase in recruitment includes NQ recruitment which we are expecting to be back at pre-pandemic levels between now and September 2021.

In March, Juliet Lawson, Alex Carpenter and I held a virtual NQ event focusing on upcoming NQ season in the North East and Yorkshire markets in conjunction with the York JLD.

In summary, 2021 is looking positive for the recruitment of NQ solicitors; we are already seeing a number of new instructions across most practice areas, from the Top Tier to small niche commercial firms. While a number of firms intend to retain their NQs where possible, most also intend to look externally.  

However, as the last 12 months have taught us, there are always factors to take into consideration which may have a knock on effect on NQ recruitment. The true impact of Brexit remains to be seen, particularly in sectors such as Corporate and Finance.

Our advice for trainees qualifying over the next 6 months is to carefully consider which areas you are interested in qualifying into; the locations you are interested in, whether you want to stay at your current firm and if this will be possible.

In my view, it would be wise to get in touch now to discuss the NQ market, while you may have been offered a role upon qualification; it is always useful to have a good idea of what else is out there.  

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