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From The Team

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A Snapshot of the Legal Recruitment Market for Interim Lawyers

July 2021

The recruitment market for interim lawyers (fixed term and temporary) is as competitive as I have seen in my 16 years in the industry. We have unprecedented demand for lawyers from our clients and a noticeable shortage of candidates available for interim contracts.

At any time of a normal year we will experience supply and demand issues in certain legal disciplines but currently we are seeing candidate shortages across the full spectrum of disciplines. At the time of writing (July 2021) I have multiple vacancies for Real Estate, Corporate, Banking & Finance, Employment, Litigation and Commercial solicitors. It seems that after 18 months of Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns which were preceded by Brexit and a General Election, the City of London has erupted with deal activity which has led to this unprecedented demand for lawyers (both interim and permanent I should note).

So why are there so few candidates available for interim contracts?

There are several reasons; IR35 legislation changes have meant that many “interim” lawyers have decided that taking up permanent opportunities is more favourable. There simply aren’t enough opportunities for lawyers to work via their own Personal Service Companies. Another reason is the lack of foreign qualified lawyers coming to the UK. Historically we have seen many Australian, South African and New Zealand qualified lawyers slot into fixed term contract roles. Due to the pandemic, many Antipodean lawyers returned home (who can blame them) and because of the current travel restrictions, we aren’t seeing the new arrivals. Another reason is the sheer strength of the permanent recruitment market; there are so many jobs for lawyers to choose from.

From a client perspective this must be an alarming situation. We have seen clients who have slow recruitment processes miss out on candidates because other firms have acted more decisively. We have also seen candidates holding multiple offers, with some firms offering significantly more than they might had initially wanted to in order to secure their interim hire.

My advice to law firms looking to hire an interim lawyer is act fast.

Streamline the process in order to be able to make an offer as soon as possible (and before the candidate secures other offers); allow a flexible working pattern if necessary; allow more home-working if it means securing the candidate; look at candidates from regional firms.

If you are a lawyer seeking a fixed term contract or temporary role, or a law firm client looking to hire am interim lawyer, please get in touch with Matthew Porter or Raj Sidhu at BCL Legal who have more than 30 years combined experience of assisting lawyers and law firms with their recruitment needs.

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