While vacancies at private practice firms have all but dried up, the downturn has lead to a spike in corporate and government in-house employment opportunities.
According to Katherine Sampson, Mahlab Recruitment's managing director in Melbourne, corporate and government organisations often attempt to bolster their internal legal capacity during a downturn because they view it as a cheaper alternative to briefing work out to external firms.
"We find, in any downturn, one of the immediate things that happens is that corporate recruitment rises ... [and] we've got more government recruitment than we've had for years," she said.
"It's based on their assumption - and I'm not saying it's a true assumption - that they will save money."
According to Sampson, corporate and government organisations believe that reducing the volume of work being briefed out to firms is a quick-fix way of cutting costs.
"They're saying ... 'If we take on a lawyer for $200,000 we're going to save $X million in external legal fees.' It's quite a simplistic view, but it's one that's strongly held," she said.
- Zoe Lyon