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The four biggest legal markets outside of London

  • November 28, 2017

London has long been the undisputed major legal market in this country. Parts of the capital have been dedicated to the practising of law since the Middle Ages and there are entire legal districts and landmarks – such as Temple and The Old Bailey – which make it synonymous with law even to those outside of the profession.

However, as a national recruiter, we’re acutely aware that there are several cities outside of London that are thriving legal hubs in their own right and are becoming increasingly desirable locations for firms and practitioners. So, what cities are thriving?

Leeds lawyers link easily with London

The legal sector in Leeds is the fastest growing in Britain, according to recent figures from the OFS. In fact, the number of jobs in the city increased by 20% between 2010 and 2015, compared to London’s 5% sector growth. Leeds has benefitted from the widespread trend of London firms relocating their offices and the ‘big six’ all have practices there. Excellent transport infrastructure means, that lawyers can easily travel to London, enabling them to offer the same range of services as their peers in the capital, but without the hefty fees. Leeds, has also seen a steady growth within its technology and digital economy, meaning there are plentiful opportunities for specialists.

Birmingham booms as a ‘legal city’

The recent ‘mini boom’ in Birmingham’s local housing market, fuelled a 68% increase in demand for the services of residential conveyancing professionals, according to our latest hiring index. In addition, there has been considerable growth in infrastructure, such as New Street Station’s £750 million transformation, leading to increased opportunities for construction lawyers.  The HS2 high-speed rail network project will continue this trend and provide a number of opportunities for transactional, regulatory, compliance and litigation specialists.

Manchester law firms mirror the city’s growth

Manchester’s buoyant legal sector, echoes the sustained growth of the city. Rapid urban development has led to a skyline of newly built towers, which house businesses and private residences. As a result, there has been continual growth within property and construction as well as finance and corporate law. Big firms such as Slater and Gordon, Clyde & Co, Freshfields and Nabarro have all settled in the city, supplying plentiful opportunities for the city’s legal professionals.

Bristol harbours major legal firms

A port city best known for its aerospace, technology, and research industries, Bristol’s knowledge-based local economy is a draw for legal firms with expertise in energy, transport, financial services and infrastructure. The Temple Quarter area has welcomed major firms such as Simmons & Simmons and Burges Salmon and key players such as home-grown Osborne Clark and TLT reported rises in their turnover during 2016/17, highlighting its viability as a second ‘legal city’.

So, as more and more firms continue to invest in these cities, the opportunities for professionals is vast. Gone are the days where it was deemed necessary to work in the capital to pursue a career in law.

If you’re a legal specialist seeking a new role for the New Year, get in touch today to see what opportunities we have available nationwide.

And, if you’re a firm seeking talent for your growing legal practice, we can help find your next hire.

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