Legal Counsel vacancies hit record levels last month

After what has been a quiet year for legal vacancies across commerce and industry, we have seen a significant surge this November, where the total (170) was higher than any month in 2019, the last year before the pandemic period. In terms of what we have seen driving this increase:

  • Fintech is on the rise again. Across C&I in November, this was the second largest sector for legal vacancies making up 12% of all vacancies. With new regulations taking effect governing crypto, this could well be to ensure regulatory compliance. By the same token, it is worth noting that Fintech generally has seen a significant uplift in the last few months. Could this be a sign of the VC firms increasing their funding again? Overall, software firms generally have also increased their recruitment significantly in the last month, which would also be a positive sign, after the decline caused by quantitative tightening.
  • In terms of skills in demand, whilst the majority of the vacancies would be for general commercial positions, whereas for much of the year, the emphasis has been on data privacy lawyers, now as the new GDPR-related regulations are passing through parliament, we are seeing this slowing down as a share of specialist roles being recruited for. For context, for this year, data privacy was making up approx. 8% of the total vacancies, whereas in November it had dropped to under 3%, which is its long-term average. In contrast, the specialist area picking up has been Regulatory, along with Property.
  • By region, London continues to dominate, and noticeably in November has seen its share of the total increase. Year to date, 52% of legal vacancies have been in the capital, within November specifically we see that rise to 57%. The South East has also picked up relatively, rising from 11% share over the year, to 13% in the last month. In contrast, other regions across the UK have been declining relatively, so the North West for example, which has been buoyant overall, has seen a dip from a 6% share to 5% this past month.

Looking ahead, the forecast should be positive. The USA is recording 4%+ GDP growth and with that, the economy is picking up speed. The VC/PE firms are accelerating too, where the UK is a prime country to invest into, for many reasons, including the fact that sterling is trading under its long-term average against the dollar (which makes UK companies cheaper to buy or invest into relatively.) That combined with the Government investments into technology and high-tech industry means that we are forecasting next year to see a surge in VC and PE funding, which will have direct implications for the wider economy and for recruitment of legal counsel as a result.

The data referenced above has been sourced from Vacancy Analytics, a cutting-edge Business Intelligence tool that tracks recruitment industry trends and identifies emerging hotspots. With 17 years of experience, we have a deep understanding of market activities in the UK and globally.

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