Record year for employment law jobs in UK private practice, with Thompsons Solicitors busiest recruiter of 2021

Apr 7, 2022 | Legal, News

  • Private practice recruitment for employment lawyers up 80.4% year-on-year
  • Overall hiring for lawyers in England & Wales in 2021 up 113% year-on-year
  • Vacancies in London continue growing in 2022, rest of UK experiences dip
  • Thompsons Solicitors, Fragomen Global, Slater and Gordon with most new jobs

Law firms across England and Wales hired employment law specialists in record numbers last year as changes to UK legislation, particularly IR35, kept legal teams busy, new research shows.

According to a new report from labour market analytics firm Vacancysoft, private practices published 460 new jobs for employment lawyers in 2021, a rise of 80.4% year-on-year. June 2021 represented the all-time record month for vacancies, with firms publishing 66 new jobs (17.9% more than the previous all-time high recorded in June 2019).

In contrast, total overall legal vacancies in private practice finished 112.6% up in 2021 in relation to 2020. This faster growth resulted in employment law vacancies as a share of all legal vacancies dropping by 1.2 percentage points between 2020 and 2021 — to account for 6.8% of all sector hiring.

Thompsons Solicitors, Fragomen Global, Slater and Gordon with most new jobs

The leading firm for employment lawyer recruitment in 2021 was Thompsons Solicitors, with vacancies up 100% year-on-year. Fragomen Global experienced an eight-fold jump in recruitment for employment lawyers, making it the firm with the largest increase in new jobs in the UK.

Top 5 law firms by employment vacancies, England & Wales, 2020-2021

Firm

2020

2021

YOY

Thompsons Solicitors

19

38

100%

Fragomen Global

3

27

800%

Slater and Gordon

8

25

212%

Eversheds Sutherland

4

22

450%

Mills & Reeve

15

11

-27%

 

In third for new jobs is Slater & Gordon, with the firm publishing 212% more vacancies last year. Out of the top 10, Mills & Reeve is the only firm that experienced a drop in employment law vacancies in 2021 compared to a year previous, with new jobs falling by 27% year-on-year. 

Vacancies in London continue growing in 2022, rest of UK experiences dip

London legal firms published nearly 170 new vacancies in 2021, representing a 118.4% year-on-year rise and 16% more in relation to 2019. In early 2022, recruitment levels continued growing with new employment law jobs set to rise 4.8% year-on-year. 

In contrast, in England and Wales as a whole, current hiring levels are down 15.2% in the first months of 2022, with employment lawyer vacancies as a share of total private practice hiring falling to 5.1%.

  • The data for this article is taken from a legal labour market trends report produced by Vacancysoft. Read it here.

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