From The Team
From The Team

Articles From the Team

London interim review - 2021

What a year 2021 has been; lockdowns, home schooling, rules of six, bans on foreign travel, road maps to recovery.

Covid-19 dominated the headlines and wreaked havoc on the economy. Many thousand of lives were lost and even now, at the end of 2021, we are still facing unprecedented times with the advent of another variant of the virus.

Against all odds, and almost in defiance of the pandemic, the worlds of business, hospitality, retail, leisure and tourism have rallied and fought and have dragged us out of the mire.

Legal recruitment suffered greatly, almost overnight in a knee-jerk reaction to the first lockdown of 2020. It makes sense that in the face of a global financial crisis the hiring of new staff should be halted. In the main, 2020 was bleak from a recruitment point of view; the numbers of recruiters who were furloughed gives an indication of the extent in which recruitment was ‘moth-balled’.

But the end of 2020 was more buoyant and as we entered the New Year recruitment was at full tilt...

Legal recruitment in 2021 has seen more vacancies than ever before. Private practice firms, in-house teams, local authorities; they have all been at it. This is true also for the interim sector, a sector in which I have specialised for more than 10 years. 2021 has seen more fixed term contract (FTC) roles than the previous highs of 2017.

There has been so much demand for lawyers for permanent roles, and, such short supply of talent that organisations have looked for interim hires to plug the gaps. We have seen instructions from firms across the cross section of the London legal landscape and across almost every practice area. The whole of the market has performed with FTC vacancies emanating from the Magic and Silver Circle, US as well as UK top 100 firms.

Banking & Finance, Real Estate and TMT have been the most sought after lawyers for FTC recruiting firms; however, demand for lawyers in most practice areas has increased compared to the previous two years.

This unprecedented demand for lawyers and seemingly, such a candidate short market, has led to salary hikes across the board and bumper bonuses. Law firms have been doing everything they can to retain their talent and attract new recruits.

From a recruitment perspective though things are still tough; demand far outweighs supply and attracting talent for FTC roles can be challenging. Changes in IR35 legislation meant that swathes of the contractor talent pool moved into permanent roles and a combination of Brexit and the pandemic meant many foreign lawyers left our shores to return home and haven’t ,as of yet, returned.  With Australia and New Zealand still having very tight borders we have not seen the antipodean migration as is usually the case.

In response to the pandemic almost every law firm is now offering a hybrid model of office/home working.

This is something which candidates now want, ranking as importantly as how much they will take home in pay. I think this is something which will be here to stay; it would be very brave of an organisation to take away hybrid working practices, especially given the correlation between hybrid working and improved mental wellbeing.

All in all 2021 has been a fantastic year for recruitment; it’s been challenging as much as it has been rewarding and as we near the end of 2021 I see no slowdown for the New Year ahead...

Buckle your seatbelts; it’s going to be another whirlwind year.

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