The legal market has been influenced by a number of key trends over the last financial year, including the downturn in mining, a number of mergers, and cuts in interest rates.
While most of the action has focused on a hiring slowdown, there have been some increases in candidate demand too across a number of areas.
For example, demand has remained strong and even showed signs of increasing in areas such as litigation, insolvency and family law, especially from boutique and mid-tier firms, often in more regional locations. There have also been signs of a return in demand for property lawyers in Western Australia.
Practices are also looking for employment /WHS lawyers, especially in Victoria, due to changes in legislation last year.
In general there is a candidate shortage for mid-level solicitors with three to five years’ PQE and law firms have been keen to retain their existing staff.
By comparison, hires at the senior associate or even partner levels are generally confined to key strategic investments. More often than not these are driven by the availability of a candidate no longer happy with the direction or environment of their current firm.
While opportunities are available, you should be aware that the change in demand levels across different sectors has also seen a significant reduction in recruitment timelines. An increase in immediately-available candidates and a willingness by employers to reduce headcount rapidly has resulted in candidates being able to commence new roles a lot faster than in previous years.
To conclude, while we have seen a significant change in market conditions for the legal profession, there are still areas of demand, so opportunities are available for lawyers with less than five years PQE.