Overview of the East Midlands Legal Market

Author James Brewster
September 12, 2019

Spread across four sub-regions: Nottingham and Derby, Leicester, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire, the legal market in the East Midlands is highly diverse with law firms ranging from large international and national firms through to rural business specialists.  Would-be relocators to the Midlands naturally gravitate towards Birmingham, however, if you can afford to be open on where in the Midlands you can be based it would be remiss not to consider the East Midlands. In fact, as many of the teams tend to be smaller in the regional offices of the national firms, this can often mean more opportunities for junior lawyers to take on early responsibility and for high achievers to progress through and gain promotion ahead of the traditional PQE curve.

With excellent transport links and lower living costs, the East Midlands offers great opportunities for those looking outside of the bigger cities. With such a wide range of firms covering all key disciplines, lawyers looking for a change of location but without compromising on quality of work will not be disappointed.  Salaries remain competitive against neighbouring Birmingham and Manchester and as the national firms strive to attract the best new talent, there is often flexibility to get the right people. London and other city re-locators are always of particular interest, as are candidates who can bring more specialised skills to the table.

Nottingham is the largest of these legal hubs and a top 10 UK legal centre, where most notably, national firm Browne Jacobson LLP have their head office and international firm Eversheds Sutherland also have a large and established office, servicing local, national and international clients. Other established national and regional players such as; top 50 law firm Shakespeare Martineau, Freeths LLP, Gateley PLC , Nelsons Solicitors and Geldards LLP operate from multiple offices across the region. In 2019, Knights PLC have continued their growth with the acquisition of two firms, Leicester-based Spearing Waite and Cummins to add to their increasing presence in the East Midlands market.

In Northamptonshire you will find that largest market shares go to Hewitsons, Howes Percival LLP and Wilson Browne Solicitors and in Lincolnshire the largest firms are Sills & Betteridge (private and business clients) and Langleys Solicitors LLP (commercial, private and insurance work). Flint Bishop LLP are the largest firm based in Derby and 2019 has seen the firm achieve its highest ever Legal 500 rankings and rated as a leading firm by both Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500.

The region also hosts a number of specialist boutique law firms with the likes of Austin Moore & Partners LLP (corporate and property specialists in Nottingham) and rural specialists Arnold Thomson.

The legal recruitment market in the East Midlands remained steady between 2017-2018 with corporate and commercial work continuing to be the most prevalent. There has been an increasing demand for data protection lawyers (off the back of GDPR) and a good range of real estate and property finance, employment, litigation, private client and agricultural work across the regional firms.

To discuss this topic, information about the legal recruitment market or for advice about planning the interview process, feel free to contact me here.

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