James Brewster Market Insight
Hybrid working and flexible hours
In a recent poll of almost 250 lawyers, 78% said they were more likely to consider higher paid positions in a city centre now that many employers offer enhanced agile working policies. Many such policies require 50% office attendance at most.
This is against the backdrop of lawyer pay rates increasing in response to an intense war for talent and to avoid a mass exodus to competing firms. Newly qualified lawyers in commercial areas of law in Birmingham city centre can expect at least £47,000 base salary, four PQE lawyers up to £60,000, and 8 PQE up to £80,000.
When you combine these salaries with the opportunity to spend half of your week working from home (sometime less), it’s no wonder that many ‘out of town’ lawyers are considering the switch. Whilst the chargeable hours target is likely to be higher at a larger firm in the city, it certainly won’t be more than 1,500 hours a year. In some instances, it will be a lot less, or even no target at all.
So, are all the city centre lawyer vacancies being snapped up as quickly as the poll suggests? No. Despite the result, law firms in Birmingham city centre are still struggling to fill their vacancies. Why is this?
Unfortunately, many of the larger firms suffer with bad reputations for working their lawyers too hard and, whilst the agile working is a welcomed benefit, many lawyers are nervous about making the move to a large firm because of what they have heard in years gone by. Often the bad reputation is unjustified; the effect of one or two bad experiences shared with a small group can easily snowball into something quite debilitating when it stops lawyers wanting to apply for a role at that firm.
It’s largely down to legal recruiters and in-house recruitment teams to make sure everything is done to dispel such rumours. We should always encourage people to find out for themselves.
Having moved many lawyers from firms in the wider Midlands region into Birmingham city centre, I can honestly say there is a lot of choice on the market at the moment. This means that you can pick and choose. Keep an open mind and you might be surprised at what’s on offer with a firm you thought you’d never join.
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