Catherine Henry, manager of BCL Legal’s Yorkshire & North East private practice team

What have been the main trends/ developments in your region/ sector over the past 12 months?
2014 has been a hugely successful and busy year across the Yorkshire & North East region. Whilst there have been a limited number of redundancies, new entrants into the region have created opportunities for many.

What have been the real growth areas and where has the demand been coming from?
Property continues to be a real growth area with all of the recognised national and regional commercial firms hiring. We continue to see a rapid demand within residential property and salaries are certainly on the up. In the latter part of the year we have seen an increase in the demand for litigators, an area which has been static for most of 2014.

Key areas of growth have been within commercial litigation and employment law. The NQ market was again busy this year with many firms being more flexible and opting to train more junior lawyers internally. There has also been an identifiable trend for more PSL lawyers as firms look to guard against falling foul of sanctions. Whilst for some taking a step away from file handling and the cut and thrust of litigation might not be appealing, for those who thrive on passing on their expertise and being involved in process management, an increase in these opportunities has been welcome.

What have been the key stories that have dominated your region/ sector?
One of the big stories has been fast-growing legal entrant Quindell expanding into Leeds in 2014. The firm has created over 100 new jobs across personal injury and occupational disease. Manchester based Just Costs, the largest solicitor’s practice in the UK specialising in costs, also continued its national expansion by opening the doors to a new Leeds office in May. The merger between Squire Sanders and Patton Boggs was big news in the summer but - overall - there have been fewer M&As this year.

What are your predictions for your region/ sector for 2015?
We certainly expect the need for lawyers and fee earners to increase as we move into 2015. Demand will remain high across many of the commercial disciplines; in particular property, construction, commercial and corporate. We also expect to see continued growth within litigation. All in all, we anticipate a healthy amount of recruitment throughout 2015.

How would you sum up 2014 in one sentence?
A positive year for many firms which are experiencing growth across multiple disciplines.