Litigation – UK Legal Labour Market Trends, June 2023

LAW FIRMS CARRY ON RECRUITING FOR LITIGATORS, MAKING THIS THE SECOND LARGEST AREA OF RECRUITMENT SO FAR THIS YEAR

Although the economic slowdown is impacting Law Firm recruitment overall, Litigation/Dispute resolution is an area which is less dependent on the economic cycle than others, as a result, this has become the second largest area law firms have been recruiting for this year, according to the latest legal report by Search and labour market data analysts Vacancysoft.

Other Key findings include:

  • In 2022, Litigation vacancies hit peak levels, however this year has seen a dip of 14%.
  • Real Estate Litigation has fallen from 13% in 2021 to 9% this year, and Commercial Litigation in contrast, has risen.
  • Regionally, Yorkshire & the Humber have bucked the trend in 2023, with vacancies up compared to the 2022 monthly average.
  • Eversheds Sutherland is a firm to watch, with LDR vacancies up 56% on the 2022 monthly average.

The Litigation function experienced a significant surge in recruitment throughout 2021 and 2022, with vacancies hitting all-time record levels last year. As we move into 2023, whilst activity has dropped, the function has proven resilient in terms of underlying recruitment when compared to other practice areas, such as Corporate or Banking.

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“Whether we have economic confidence or continued global economic pain, the requirement for organisations to achieve outcomes through the courts will always remain” according to James Franklin, Director of Legal & Compliance at Search.

Of note, the biggest year-on-year fall in vacancies was seen in Real Estate Litigation, with a 10.3% fall in 2022. The difficulties for this market are set to continue, with 2023 estimates revealing a 29.1% drop in 2023 (only marginally lower than Dispute Resolution).

By region, London saw a peak in Litigation/Dispute Resolution vacancies in 2021, this was followed by a decline of 13.8% in 2022. The forecast for 2023 predicts a further year-on-year decrease of 19.3%. In contrast, Yorkshire and the Humber was the only region to see vacancies increase in terms of the monthly average this year.

“As national Law Firms increasingly organise themselves to distribute work across offices, this has the potential for cost saving advantages as well, meaning that across the North, recruitment remains buoyant in the sector” according to the Vacancysoft CEO, James Chaplin.

Finally, other than Eversheds Sutherland, companies worth watching for their hiring increases so far this year include Keoghs, Express Solicitors and Stone King. Just as importantly though, firms increasing their hiring so far this year typically are regional or national, where London-based firms seem to have been slowing down compared to last year.

All data featured in this report is available in the Vacancy Analytics platform, which is updated in real-time and allows for interactive analysis, giving you the power to drill into trends to identify the key insights, you need to power your business.

If you would like to book in a consultation with us to analyse trends in your market, you can schedule one here.

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