Are law jobs in demand?

Posted in Candidates, Employers, Legal Roles

Published on 18 May, 2022

As with every sector, the legal sector stood on extremely rocky ground at the start of the pandemic. Firms went into survival mode, placing a lot of hiring efforts on hold and concentrating on the job at hand.   

However, more than 24 months on, the legal sector looks vastly different from how it did even just a few months ago. There’s no denying that it has been a sector that has taken a little longer than others to catch up with change and digital transformation, tied very much to the traditional apron strings. Nevertheless, as we head into the second half of 2022, it’s clear that the legal sector has evolved, and employers must be aware of what this means for hiring.  

It’s busier than ever before 

During COVID-19, after the initial shock of lockdown and the anxiety-inducing rate of spread, legal firms found themselves outperforming their expectations for the 2020/2021 financial year. This trend is set to continue and perhaps even exceed last year’s results. We are especially seeing legal vacancies soar in areas such as property, family, and personal injury law. However, this level of growth comes with its own challenges.  

The war for talent continues  

In 2021, the US saw a 51 per cent increase in the number of legal associates leaving firms and an overwhelming 86 per cent of UK lawyers said that, if their firms were unable to meet demands such as implementing flexible working options, they would look to leave for pastures new.  

While many employers have agreed to improve flexibility and agility within firms, to allow for improved flexible working models, one area where we saw a lot of push back from leaders was in their hiring demands.  

Many stood firmly on the grounds of only hiring experienced lawyers, reporting that they simply didn’t have the time during the economic climate and the rate of consumer demand to give training to paralegals. However, with the market still seeing demand outstrip supply ten-fold, we’re seeing firms changing tact and welcoming in more paralegals than ever before.  

You can’t throw money at staff to make them stay 

Whenever I’m talking to a candidate about why they’re leaving a role and venturing out to find a new vacancy, the reason behind their departure is nearly almost never to do with their salary. Instead, we’re seeing employees leave over an inflexible employer that expects them to be in the office five days a week, a career path that has fallen stagnant, or a culture that has fallen apart and not been rebuilt since the pandemic.  

It’s not enough for employers or senior leaders to attempt to use money as an incentive to stay. Even if the offer is accepted, the same root causes for employee dissatisfaction remain and you may find yourself in the same position in six months’ time. 

An individual approach must be taken to needs and wants 

Blanket change within a company will not be enough to improve staff happiness and satisfaction. Indeed, what one person needs from their employment will be vastly different from the next, depending on personal situations.  

For example, we are seeing paralegals excited about the return to the office, raring to absorb as much experience as possible as they look to hook a training contract. More experienced staff members, however, may feel that a hybrid approach works better for them, especially if they have other commitments outside of the workplace.  

Employers must work hard to understand the different requirements of the staff members and look at practical solutions to meet these the best they can. While you won’t be able to please everyone, there will always be room for compromise from both parties if approached correctly.  

The pandemic has seen legal firms either move with the transformation of the business landscape and prosper, or stay stubbornly rooted in ‘the way things always were’ and begin to suffer for it. For those still stuck in the past, now is the time to change or risk being left behind for good.  

Senior Consultant - Legal Division

Sophia joined Cathedral Appointments in April 2016 as a Senior Consultant. She had previously run her own recruitment business but missed the buzz of working with fellow recruiters! Her law degree gives her a distinct advantage working with legal candidates and firms of solicitors. She is a great team player, good fun in the office and fab on a night out - although she can't really remember much the next day!

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Are law jobs in demand?

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