The financial services legal recruitment sector has had a vibrant start to the year, writes Chris Meharg from Taylor Root.
“How’s the legal recruitment market”? I probably get asked that question 10-15 times a week and there hasn’t been a straight-forward or common answer for a few years now. Some law firms are faring better than others and are hiring again, and busy commercial sectors are driving higher demand for in-house lawyers in certain sectors.
I specialise in financial services legal recruitment and the bulk of recruitment in the last two-to-three years has been led by regulatory change, for example Future of Financial Advice (FOFA), European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR), Dodd Frank, or product specific around funds, wealth management and retail banking product work.
This year, however, has started well on the transactional side of things with demand from investment banks and fund managers for institutional banking and corporate finance experience. In comparison to 12 months ago, the law firms too, are more active in this space, with some firms showing increasing interest in overseas-based candidates, a true bellwether for an improving legal recruitment market, particularly in transactional areas.
Of equal significance is the return of the international law firms to our shores. A handful of London-based firms are actively searching in the Australian and New Zealand markets right now. More will follow as the UK legal market continues to thaw after five years of near-hibernation.
With a declining Australian dollar and potentially a limited window to gain overseas experience, the attraction of an international move will undoubtedly impact on the available supply of good quality and relevant candidates for our own domestic market. Many in-house clients are already commenting on their struggles to secure law firm secondees. Perhaps this supply-demand issue is already real?
So to answer the original question, undoubtedly the market is showing significant signs of life and improvement from 6 months ago. With a few false starts since the GFC and with caution and cost-cutting still high on most client agendas, it still feels a little too early to call a sustained recovery for the legal market.
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