The second quarter of this year has seen a continuation of the slower recruitment market seen in the early months of 2023.
As a result, the private practice market has been characterized by a general feeling of cautiousness. In this context, candidates are more considerate when looking to embrace new job opportunities and find it more difficult to leave their comfort zone and explore a move to another law firm.
Law firms themselves are also slower to come to a decision on hiring and hesitant to kick-start processes.
In addition, the post-pandemic world has brought a greater work-life balance as well as higher salaries in private practice and narrowed the gap in this regard between law firms and corporates. This makes a move in-house less of a draw than we have seen in past years, where a move in-house would dramatically improve a lawyer’s work/life balance.
Maintaining this balance is now at the very top of the priority list for a candidate considering a move; even above a salary increase. As a result, the candidate market remains stagnant: law firms go around in circles in their search for the superstar and candidates opt to stay put in their current roles.
Despite the challenge of attracting candidates, law firms are continuing to hire. The regulated practices have been particularly busy, closely followed by administrative practices, energy and urban and town planning law. In particular, the transactional practices have experienced a slowdown compared to the booming market we saw in 2022.
Most vacancies coming to market are for Associate / Mid-level lawyers although there have also been some senior roles. For Partner search, the biggest driver for firms to consider a new hire remains the individual themselves and the book of business a lawyer can bring with them, rather than the specific practice area being the priority.