find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
My next move: How challenging is the current legal job market?

My next move: How challenging is the current legal job market?

Speak to the vast majority of legal recruiters with more than 10 years’ experience and they will give you the same message: it hasn’t been this bad for almost 20 years.

Speak to the vast majority of legal recruiters with more than 10 years’ experience and they will give you the same message: it hasn’t been this bad for almost 20 years.

In comparison to the dot-com fuelled dip in 2002-03 and the post GFC crash of 2008-09, the length and depth of the current depressed job market for lawyers is significant.

This is being felt acutely in the private practice market.

Over the last 12 months, the top-tier firms have ceased almost all recruitment. Of course there is selective hiring in this group, but in relative terms opportunities to join these traditional powerhouses are almost non-existent.

Mid-tier and boutique practices have recruited opportunistically but this trend has also slowed over the last three to six months. The unusually high levels of partner movement, international mergers and new firm entrants have also added to the uncertain sentiment. This pattern is trending on a national basis.

So, where do opportunities exist? The in-house market is quieter than in previous years but companies are still recruiting at a steady rate. There have been relatively few redundancies over the last six months from in-house legal teams. On the flip side, each and every in-house role is fiercely contested and keenly sought after.

The growth in regulatory work also presents opportunities for lawyers, particularly in financial services. Many lawyers have turned away from traditional transactional work to concentrate on regulatory and compliance advice work e.g. FOFA, Dodd Frank. With an increasingly demanding regulatory environment, we expect this trend to continue.

The traditional offshore locations for Australian lawyers don’t necessarily offer any safe haven either. London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore are still yet to emerge fully from their own depressed conditions. The Middle East, however, offers more opportunities, with Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, for example, still locations where Australian lawyers are in demand.

Some general thoughts:

  • It is unwise to resign without first securing another role. Our clients will typically require a sound reason for this decision
  • Don’t discount the contract or temporary options. Some law firms and many companies recruit lawyers on long-term contracts. On the whole, a stint on contract won’t detract from your chances of securing a permanent role
  • Be realistic. It is a competitive job market and don’t necessarily expect a premium hike in salary package to move jobs. More than ever, our clients seek value for money and you will be offered what they see as market rate for the specific skills you bring.


Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

My next move: How challenging is the current legal job market?
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Dec 11 2017
Warm welcome for new district court judges
Three practitioners who were appointed as district court judges in WA have been congratulated by ...
Lawyers welcome same-sex marriage reform
Dec 11 2017
Lawyers welcome same-sex marriage reform
Australian lawyers have welcomed the recent legalisation of same-sex marriage, after a prolonged nat...
Senate disallows double standards for temporary visa holders
Dec 8 2017
Senate disallows double standards for temporary visa holders
Lawyers have welcomed the Senate’s rejection of regulations imposing strict penalties on temporary...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...