Legal Sector Hiring Trends: What Is Happening In The Market
- Posted by Lynn Sedgwick
- May 24, 2022
The last few years have certainly seen monumental shifts in the hiring landscape from talent shortages to remote and flexible working.
There is more to come. The impact of the war in Ukraine and rising inflation due to fuel costs and supply chain issues will undoubtedly impact even more candidate decisions to move for more money as the year progresses.
At the end of 2021, there was a record 1.2 million vacancies according to the O.N.S. across all sectors in the U.K. More than fifty per cent of companies reporting staff shortages said they were struggling to fill vacancies.
Unemployment continues to decline, falling to 1.4 million in the three months to October 2021. While unemployment is still above levels before the pandemic, it is now below the average level in the five years before the beginning of quarter one of 2020.
Before we dive into the legal landscape, let us look at recruiting across other sectors first, which naturally will impact the business growth of the legal sector.
The Hiring Trends Index
The hiring trends index reveals that vacancies reached a record high in quarter one, although the growth rate is slowing down compared to the end of last year.
In the recruitment sector, this is known as a candidate-driven market. This is demonstrated by the fact that over forty per cent of businesses have increased their recruitment since the start of the year.
Most companies plan to keep hiring this year, with only 4% planning to decrease recruitment in Q2 2022.
A few points of note from the index, which are present across many legal firms in the U.K., is that companies are seeing an increase of over 20% in hours worked, resulting in one in ten employees leaving because they ‘feel’ overworked. This is connected to over a quarter of employers being concerned about their staff’s mental wellbeing.
All parts add to a complex hiring equation playing out for legal firms across the U.K.
The War For Legal Talent Will Get Worse
In a recent Law.com post, several U.K. law firm leaders were interviewed about their predictions for 2022. The war for legal talent was a key area for discussion on the back of an increasingly dynamic legal landscape in 2022.
Though several leaders predict a slowdown of the transactional surge that occurred in the last half of 2021, they anticipate a rise in restructuring, insolvency, and dispute work, which will continue to fuel what many call an “unsustainable” war between firms to attract the best.
In today’s marketplace, firms need to consider their benefits package overall. Though increased pay rises and higher salaries will carry on, law firms will have to focus more on aspects such as their company culture, the quality of clients they work with and how they look after and develop their staff.
This was backed up by a recent post in The Guardian, where Jon Boys, the labour market economist at the C.I.P.D. confirmed what is happening across the country. Employers are working harder than ever to keep their staff ‘happy’ and do more for them, be that better clients to work with or the option for flexible working.
As a result of market conditions, many firms are coming to the Clayton team seeking advice on how to improve their employer value proposition in the market, from salaries to looking at alternative working patterns that offer greater flexibility.
Work-life balance is no longer simply a buzzword in the H.R. departments of law firms that want to attract the right legal talent for their growth. Working hard is a given in most law firms; however, many legal candidates are actively considering moving to a more empathetic firm that will allow them to create some balance in their lives.
Alison Brown, an executive partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, a respected international firm, when interviewed by Law.com, also commented that firms need to create a culture that appeals to people. Giving people the best work with work-life balance would be the differentiator when legal candidates choose their next employer.
In summary, candidates are willing to move firms, but with an abundance of choice in such a competitive market, it remains a challenge for employers to truly stand out and offer compelling job opportunities in a Firm that has an already strong employer brand, and is able to articulate it’s vision, culture, and wider employer value proposition.
About Clayton Legal
Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T. personnel to Practice Managers.
If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.