Hiring for lawyers highest since pre-pandemic, Allen & Overy and Linklaters rise

Mar 25, 2021 | Legal, News

Recruitment for lawyers is at its highest level since before the start of the covid-19 pandemic, new labour market data for England and Wales (E&W) shows. 

Professional legal recruitment took a big hit during the UK’s first national lockdown, resulting in hiring levels in Q2 2020 falling by 74.3% quarter-on-quarter. Year-on-year vacancies across E&W subsequently finished 33% down compared to 2019. 

However, in February 2021 Britain’s top firms posted 729 professional vacancies, reaching a level not seen since January 2020, according to a new report by Vacancysoft. That’s 18.73% more vacancies compared to the same month a year earlier.

“These encouraging figures show that the recovery within the legal sector is properly back on track,” says James Chaplin, CEO of Vacancysoft. “After a year like no other for the industry, legal firms are rediscovering their rhythm — and recruiters in this space are feeling the positive knock-on effects.”


While overall professional vacancies across the Magic Circle dropped collectively by 40.5% year-on-year in 2020, hiring levels at two member firms increased despite the challenging economic conditions. 

Recruitment at Allen & Overy finished 13% higher compared to 2019, while Linklaters posted double (+100%) the previous years’ amount of new roles in 2020. All Magic Circle firms made a strong start to 2021, with current monthly average vacancies already higher than last year’s figures.


The report also shows that vacancies for banking and finance lawyers now make up a bigger portion of the overall legal labour market. These experts’ share rose from 4.6% in 2019 to 6.3% in 2020.

London remains the dominant region for B&F legal vacancies across E&W, with the city accounting for 74.1% of private practice and 79.9% of in-house roles, respectively.

  • The data for this article is taken from Vacancysoft’s recent report on lawyers in banking and finance, available here. 
  • Need labour market data to enhance a story or report? Contact Vacancysoft’s Communications team on +44 (0) 207 193 8990.

[Photo by Sebastian Pichler on Unsplash]

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