Which areas of law are most in demand right now?

Written by: Charlotte Wills, Austen Lloyd
Published on: 15 Jan 2021

For hire blog 2

After what has been an extremely challenging year for the legal profession, we asked recruitment expert Charlotte Wills from Austen Lloyd how the market has responded to the pandemic and which areas of law are most in-demand right now.

Charlotte reports that the recovery of the legal recruitment market is gathering momentum with each passing week. This mirrors data from LinkedIn’s recent workforce report, which demonstrated the resilience of the legal recruitment market. Recruitment in the legal sector was 42% higher month over month from September to October, although the market remains 17% lower than legal recruitment figures in 2019, this shows renewed optimism and growth in the market.

Recruitment in most areas of law dropped off a cliff in March and April, with firms of all sizes understandably unsure of what the future would bring, and many sadly having to let go of staff. Some areas such as family law, private client and medical negligence remained relatively steady, and continue to be busy. Some other practice areas have taken far longer to start showing recovery. Smaller firms in the city led the way in bouncing back, with litigation (commercial and property in particular) one of the most in demand areas. This is no surprise given the context in which firms are operating.

The larger national and international firms adopted to a more cautious approach, with areas such as corporate, real estate, construction and banking all being slower to pick up. However, the bigger firms seem to have turned a corner and these practice areas are now all very busy with new roles every week. The confidence returning from an economic perspective has led to a big uptick in areas such as funds, private equity and capital markets whilst residential and commercial property are also picking up.

Areas of commercial law have also seen a resurgence in recent weeks, and here at Austen Lloyd we’re anticipating a surge of recruitment activity in Q1 of 2021, albeit keeping a wary eye on Brexit developments that could impact some areas.

In terms of positive news for candidates in how firms are responding to the pandemic, many law firms have now adapted to the new norm of conducting meetings via video link (popular choices being Microsoft teams or Zoom) and are confident in making a formal decision on that basis. Another huge benefit we now have is that firms are offering much more flexibility. Law firms have truly embraced remote working and are allowing significantly more flexibility as a result which is something that was hard to come by beforehand.

Now that firms have made the necessary changes and are operating from home successfully, the recruitment market has been full steam ahead – and we are confident we’re in for a busy and successful first quarter of 2021.

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