Queensland has experienced a surge of activity since mid-2009 and law firms in Brisbane are expecting further growth. Briana Everett looks at why lawyers are smiling in the sunshine state.
The Queensland market in 2010 has been dominated by strong demand for lawyers in the energy and resources sector, infrastructure and construction, as well as the corporate and M&A areas.
With the emergence of an oil and gas sector, plus construction and property development occurring, legal recruitment company Hudson says Brisbane is proving to be the strongest performer on the back of the financial crisis, with competitive salaries to rival those offered in Sydney or Melbourne.
"If you're an energy and resources lawyer, or front-end construction lawyer, you can basically have your pick of any of the top-tier or leading mid-tier firms in Brisbane," says Hudson's Nick Robertson. "[The Brisbane] market has probably recovered more rapidly than Sydney or Melbourne."
The insurance sector is also experiencing demand, according to Robertson, and in a candidate-short market salaries are set to increase for insurance lawyers, where salaries have historically been comparatively low.
According to Robertson, almost every top-tier firm in Brisbane is currently looking for energy and resources lawyers, as well as those mid-tier and smaller firms who have recently started operating in Brisbane.
"I think we're going to see a fair bit of competition from the larger mid-tier firms who are making really big headway in the Brisbane market," he says.
And according to Hudson's Katie Rogers, a significant amount of growth is expected by Brisbane firms in the next 12 to 18 months. "A lot of the firms that we work with, mainly mid-tier, have indicated that they see quite a lot of growth in their Brisbane office," she says.
Following in the footsteps of Johnson Winter & Slattery, which recently opened a Brisbane office, Robertson says other smaller firms are also planning to open up an office in Brisbane in the next six to 12 months.
With the stabilisation of Queensland's mining and resources sector, employer sentiment is strong and to a certain extent, candidates can expect to name their price.