LOCAL RECRUITERS say they are responding to requests from Australian law firms looking to bring locally-trained talent back to Australia, once lured away by the profitable UK job market.
The renewed interest in international recruitment campaigns comes at a time when job security in London is uncertain. A global economic crisis is still catching up on Australia, and in the meantime a local talent shortage makes the appeal of British-trained talent welcome.
Edward Andrews, managing director at EA International believes that for many years overseas firms have taken the cream of the Australian market, and that Australian firms now want their people back. “The recruitment market in London is pretty much drying up, especially for transactional lawyers, particularly because of the state of the financial crisis in capital markets in Europe and America,” he said.
Laura Evans, a consultant on the private practice team at Taylor Root said they have already run four campaigns for top Australian law firms over the past 12 months. “We placed a number of UK lawyers mainly within the fields of corporate, financial and litigation. Those were the areas most in demand,” she said.
While Taylor Root has not run any UK campaigns this year, they have had requests from firms to do so. “We believe we will be running two or three over the course of the year and we’re in discussion on those at the moment,” she said.
It’s the mid-level lawyers with around three to six years’ experience who are in the most demand, especially UK-qualified Australians returning home. “We recruit from the magic circle, from city firms and more recently the regional firms,” Evans said.
Jonathan Walmsley, director at Dolman, said the last major campaign Dolman ran in the UK was for Baker & McKenzie about a year ago. While it has been quiet since, Walmsley said that they have been approached by both a national firm and a mid-tier firm now interested in running campaigns overseas.
“It’s more expensive than advertising in Australia — certainly in the two principal publications in the UK it is — so you have to think carefully about your ad spend there,” Walmsley said. “It is something we’re thinking about, but nothing concrete.”
Meanwhile, Andrews said that EA International has also been approached by firms locally interested in running London-based campaigns, but they’ve been careful to decline all to date.
“We have never yet run a campaign in London and the stance we take on that is we believe it is disingenuous to be working for the global law firms and their officers around the world — and then try and poach their lawyers away,” he said.
While Andrews admits they may assist with regional practices in Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol where they don’t have any clients, he maintains it would be bad practice for them to use their head-hunting methods to target the top-tier firms.
“We believe it’s short-termism to try and make a bit of money when London is not doing well in this market, because ultimately we’ll loose those who pay us globally,” he said.
This is why EA International has avoided working for local firms in Australia, Andrews said. “We introduce candidates occasionally but we have no interest in being a preferred supplier. We tell them quite candidly that all we’re doing 24/7 is taking their lawyers overseas.”
One firm that has successfully run UK recruitment campaigns without the assistance of a recruiter is plaintiff law firm, Shine Lawyers. After an advertising drive in British legal publications that resulted in 200 applicants for Queensland-based positions, the firm says it has hired nine British-trained lawyers.
Stephen Roche, managing partner of Shine Lawyers said it was difficulties in sourcing talent locally that inspired them to go overseas. “Due to our rapid expansion, we were finding it difficult to recruit experienced personal injury lawyers so we decided to go to the UK market,” Roche said.