The job market for in-house lawyers in the banking and financial services space has stabilised over the last 12 months however recruitment levels are still low.
According to the 2011 Taylor Root Market Update & Salary Review, while the market is less volatile than it was in 2009 and 2010, recruitment in 2011 has been ad-hoc across most sub-sectors, reflecting a trend of reactive, business-critical hiring.
"While there has not been any significant volatility or headcount reduction since 2009, there has also been no sudden recruitment surge since early 2010," the report states.
According to the report, although the market is no longer troubled by mass redundancies, banking and financial services organisations are still facing restricted budgets and internal pressures when looking to gain headcount approval.
"A prolonged approval process is often still required before job offers are forthcoming and fixed term contracts or temporary appointments are still being offered to circumvent this arduous process," the report stated, highlighting that secondees are still actively sought by most organisations.
"During the last 12 months, our survey reveals that just under 30 per cent of clients experienced some form of headcount freeze at some point during the period."
Looking forward, 30 per cent of organisations surveyed predicted they would increase the net headcount in their legal teams in the 2011-12 financial year, with junior to mid-level lawyers in demand. In contrast, legal manager, head of legal and general counsel roles are particularly scarce as organisations make an effort to build a broader team demographic to ensure their team does not become too "top heavy" with senior lawyers.
"Since the start of this calendar year, when companies have recruited, there has been a real focus on hiring lawyers at the junior to mid-levels - three to seven years post-admission - with very few roles available for lawyers looking for more senior counsel positions."
According to the report, in the last six months there has been "reasonable demand" for lawyers with skills in the areas of financial services and retail banking, superannuation, regulatory and compliance, derivatives and ISDA documentation, equities/structured products and funds/investment management.