London – UK Legal Labour Market Trends, July 2023

London Law Firms slow down recruitment as hiring returns to pre-covid levels.

Key findings include:

  • 2023 is likely to be the quietest year since 2020, with legal vacancies down 35.5% YOY
  • Corporate Law has had the sharpest decline, with an estimated decrease of 58.2%.
  • Similarly, across TMT, we have seen a drop of 58.5%, Banking is proving more resilient.
  • Stephenson Harwood has had the largest YOY increase, up 72.7% on 2022. 

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After a record few years of activity in the capital, 2023 is likely to be the quietest year since 2020, with legal vacancies down 35.5% on last year, albeit at levels equating to 2019, according to the latest report by Professional Services recruitment specialists, Search, and labour market data analysts Vacancysoft.

“A consistent level of demand in Litigation and increased need for Employment Lawyers has in part offset the decline caused by the economic effects of post Q3 2022 and the war in Ukraine. Equally as we move into the second half of 2023 the London Legal market, while resilient to market conditions, is still not hiring at the same rate as we had seen post pandemic.” according to James Franklin, Director of Legal & Compliance at Search.

The Corporate/M&A Division is anticipated to experience the most significant decline in 2023, with an estimated decrease of 58.2%. Equally such is the cyclical nature of this market, we anticipate recruitment here bouncing back, when Corporate work starts again.

The impact of the slowdown in the Tech industry can be seen in the slowdown in the recruitment of lawyers in the sector as well. Across Technology, Media and Telecoms companies, this segment was the leading one for the recruitment of lawyers, in 2022. However, in 2023, we have seen a drop of 58.5%. Nonetheless, the forecast is for this rebalance, and pick up again, as the market adapts to new conditions.

“Generative AI has the potential to transform how law firms operate. Different firms will approach this challenge in a multitude of ways. In this wave of innovation that is hitting, the firms that adapt fastest will thrive.” according to James Chaplin, Chief Executive at Vacancysoft.

In terms of organisations to watch, Leading the way is Clifford Chance, with an impressive 81 lawyer vacancies posted in London. Stephenson Harwood has had the largest year-on-year increase, with vacancies up 72.7% on last year. As a result, they have gone from being twentieth last year, to being in the top five this year. Finally, Barclays is the leading recruiter of Lawyers, in-house. 

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

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