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Wanted: insolvency lawyers

Wanted: insolvency lawyers

Recruitment strategies aren't exactly top of mind for law firms at the moment - unless you're talking about their insolvency practices. Despite the fact that many practice groups are…

Recruitment strategies aren't exactly top of mind for law firms at the moment - unless you're talking about their insolvency practices.

Despite the fact that many practice groups are experiencing hiring freezes, and, in some cases, redundancies, there's still a significant amount of movement in the insolvency area.

According to Corrs Chambers Westgarth Partner Dominic Emmett, there's a shortage in the market of skilled, experienced insolvency lawyers because the area has been relatively quiet for so long.

"It's been so long since [insolvency practices] have had such a strong flow of work and a recession like we have now, so there isn't really expertise in the market," he said.

As a result of this gap in the market, Emmett said, there's a controversial trend - particularly in the US and UK - for lawyers in quieter practice groups such as banking and finance to "respray" themselves as insolvency specialists.

"Certainly there's a question mark over their ability to do that. You don't suddenly, overnight, go from being a securitisation lawyer to being a restructuring lawyer," he said.

Emmett said there was a notable absence of insolvency expertise among younger lawyers, many of whom entered the profession during the boom times when insolvency groups were well and truly out of the spotlight.

"It's certainly difficult to recruit younger lawyers with significant restructuring experience. But, having said that, younger lawyers are more valuable in that they're more able to reskill, relative to older lawyers who are too set in their ways," he said.

At the graduate level, however, it's a very different story, and Clayton Utz partner Karen O'Flynn said there was no shortage of talent wanting to get in on the action.

"Almost every young lawyer with whom I speak wants to be an insolvency lawyer," she said. "They think that this is going to be a growth area for the foreseeable future and that fits in well with their individual ambition."

- By Zoe lyon

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