Hiring for lawyers smashes pre-pandemic records with all-time high demand for real estate specialists

Oct 19, 2021 | Legal, News

New jobs for lawyers in England and Wales have maintained their high numbers since the early spring and continue reaching levels not seen since before the pandemic, according to new research.

Data from legal recruiter BCL Legal and data analytics firm Vacancysoft shows that private practice recruitment levels in Q3 were up 92.1% year-on-year and represented a 46.8% rise compared to 2019 — a sign that industry is rapidly making up lost ground during the lockdown months of 2020.

This follows on from Q2, during which professional legal vacancies were just short of 2,000 published jobs (1,956 vacancies). This constitutes a 122% year-on-year jump and a 55.2% rise in relation to 2019. 

Hiring totals, however, dipped by 19.2% month-on-month in September, falling below 500 for the first time since February — suggesting demand within private practice has passed its peak. Consequently, Q3 finished down 5.4% quarter-on-quarter.

Angharad Warren, Director, BCL Legal, says: “This year has been incredibly busy with record hiring levels and firms reporting excellent results and growth. Our challenge now is finding enough candidates to fulfil client requirements. 

“The war for talent and blurred location requirements has impacted regional salary levels. It will be interesting to see if this upward trajectory continues as firms formalise remote-working policies and move towards a hybrid model, requiring employees to be within easy commuting distance of local offices.”  

Vacancies for lawyers specialising in real estate are also up this year, rising in lockstep with house prices and construction output. In Q3 this year, hiring levels for these experts finished 126.3% up year-on-year. Relative to the same quarter in 2019, they are 68.1% higher. Shoosmiths, DWF and Freeths are the top recruiters in 2021 so far for real estate lawyers.

James Chaplin, CEO, Vacancysoft, says: “Activity in the commercial UK property market this year has shaken off the effects of covid with overall construction levels at a 10-year-high. But the big question now is whether these levels are sustainable as interest rates start to rise and quantitative easing tapers off. 

“That vacancies for private practice real estate specialists are levelling off suggests law firms might be pausing to see what happens next. The real estate sector is still recalibrating as businesses continue to try and understand the effects of hybrid working on their space requirements.”

  • The data for this article is taken from a Vacancysoft and BCL Legal report on the legal real estate market. Read it here.
  • Need labour market data to enhance a story or report? Contact Vacancysoft’s Communications team on +44 (0) 207 193 8990.

[Photo by Sean Pollock on Unsplash]

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