Hiring for UK litigation lawyers remains buoyant post-lockdown as the North West closes the gap on London for new private practice jobs — new report

May 16, 2022 | Law, News

  • New UK jobs for litigators up a quarter in 2021, set to grow 2% in 2022
  • North West with 25% of all new litigator jobs, two points behind London
  • Express Solicitors with surge in hiring, overtakes Eversheds Sutherland in 2022

Vacancies for litigation lawyers in UK law firms are maintaining their high levels going into 2022 after a record year, with new jobs in the North West making up ground on London, new labour market research shows.

According to a report by recruitment industry data analysts Vacancysoft, there were over 900 vacancies for litigation lawyers in 2021 in England and Wales, a rise of 50.2% year-on-year and 24.9% up on pre-pandemic levels. 

In early 2022, private practices across the country have already published over a quarter of the jobs recorded last year, putting recruitment levels on course to grow 2% year-on-year.


North West with 25% of all new litigator jobs, two points behind London

The largest region for litigation vacancies in private practice is London, accounting for over 32% of all jobs in 2019 and 2021. However, this proportion fell to 27% in early 2022 as the pace of new vacancies in the capital is 14% slower compared to the same period in 2021.

Jobs in the North West are currently up 27% on last year — pushing up the region’s share of recruitment from 19.6% in 2021 to 25% in 2022. Law firms in Manchester are helping drive this increase, with the city experiencing the fastest growth in the UK in early 2022 as vacancies rise 37%.


Express Solicitors with surge in hiring, overtakes Eversheds Sutherland in 2022

Express Solicitors has been the most active hirer of litigation lawyers so far this year with 25 vacancies. This is nearly three times more than the second-most active firm, Eversheds Sutherland, which leads the way for the large commercial law firms. However, after a very busy 2021, where recruitment at Eversheds Sutherland rose 126% year-on-year, volumes are currently down 16%.


Top 5 private practices, litigation lawyer vacancies, 2019-2022* (See report for Top 20)

# Company 2019 2020 2021 2022 (Q1)
1 Express Solicitors 3 4 28 25
2 Eversheds Sutherland 18 19 43 9
3 Lyons Davidson 12 4 11 7
4 DAC Beachcroft 14 15 25 6
5 Thompsons Solicitors 3 25 9 6


Of the major international firms, Herbert Smith Freehills and CMS Cameron McKenna have seen the biggest uptick this year, up 300% and 433% respectively. In contrast, when examining vacancies at Clyde & Co, average monthly vacancies have dropped 25% after experiencing 300% year-on-year increase in 2021.

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