Increasing demand and a lack of lawyers with experience in the resources and mining industry means law firms are starting to offer sign-on bonuses and salary increases to attract and retain top talent.
According to the latest Hays Quarterly Report for October 2011, the second mining boom has driven demand for lawyers with at least two to three years PAE across the resources and mining industry or the associated industries of energy, construction and property - particularly in Western Australia and Queensland.
Elsewhere in the Australian legal market, the Hays Report shows demand for lawyers in the employment space in response to new legislation and Fair Work compliance, while demand is also starting to increase for corporate lawyers as companies emerge from the downturn, and as M&A, capital raisings and joint venture activity increases.
The report also indicates that banking and finance lawyers are in short supply and demand is growing.
Given a shortage of skills in these areas, particularly lawyers with resources and mining industry experience, Hays says employers are now willing to sponsor highly-skilled candidates from the United Kingdom and are working hard to source and attract the appropriate talent to Australia.
According to Hays, internal incentive bonuses of up to $20,000 per successful referral have been seen, firms are starting to offer sign-on bonuses and employers are offering greater flexibility and high salary increases to retain top talent.
In the coming quarter, the Hays Report says firms will begin to hire to support their growth strategies, while the in-house market will be less active.
But despite this increase in demand for lawyers, the report says firms are remaining selective in the candidates they will consider and only those lawyers with the exact skills and experience required will be offered a position.
Similarly, while candidate levels are low, those candidates who are looking for their next role are conservative in their job search and will take their time.