Tax – UK Legal Labour Market Trends, March 2024

Record levels of tax vacancies posted in Law Firms nationally in February 

Key findings include:
  • February saw London’s tax lawyer vacancies surge by 87.5% compared to Feb 2023
  • Significant increase in recruitment for trusts lawyers, up 118.2%
  • Further this year, the share of tax vacancies across the South will rise to 44.9%
  • Irwin Mitchell leading the way with a 292% increase in activity YoY.

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February saw Law firms post more vacancies for tax lawyers nationally than any other month over the prior two years. Furthermore, we expect a surge of 32.5% by the end of 2024. Factoring the regionalization happening within the sector, where the regions retain 80.5% of the national share, there has also been a noticeable shift in 2024 to date, with hiring in London on the rise. With that, London firms had an 87.5% surge in vacancies when compared to the same month the prior year. This is according to the latest UK labour market trends report by leading professional recruiter Search, and labour market data analysts Vacancysoft.

David Holden – Director – Private Practice – Search comments:

“With increased demand for specialists in private client and trust law, we’re witnessing an upward pressure on salaries for these roles. This is creating new career opportunities but also a competitive hiring environment where firms must offer more than just financial incentives to attract top talent.”

Private client sector is the dominant area, with a share of 81.3%  tax vacancies. 

Insofar that Private client is the dominant point of hiring (accounting for 81.3% year to date) it has been increasing in terms of the share of total tax vacancies, compared to previous years. For context, In 2022, it constituted 74.5% of the total. In contrast, there is a fall in the recruitment of corporate tax lawyers. Finally, there has been a significant increase in recruitment for trust lawyers. In 2022, they made up 2% of the total, but by last year, this had risen to 5.1%, and so far this year, up to 5.6%. 

Regionalization within the sector: the South takes the lead.

The South comprises the largest overall area for tax vacancies, representing 39.5% of the total in 2023. Interestingly, in 2024, this figure has increased further to 44.9%, up from 39.5% in the prior year. In contrast, London witnessed a notable decrease in vacancies, accounting for 18.7% of the total shares in 2024, down from 19.5% in 2023, and lagging behind the North. Similarly, the Midlands experienced the most significant year-on-year decrease in tax vacancies, dropping by 22.1%, with a corresponding 3.9% decrease in share.

Slowed down recruitment activity in London-centric firms 

When analyzing activity by firm, it becomes noticeable how much less the London-centric firms recruit. In 2023, the leading firm for tax vacancies in London, Russell Cooke, posted five roles. Penningtons and Bird & Bird is also worth mentioning, as only those firms have posted vacancies in 2024 so far. 

Looking outside London, Irwin Mitchell led the way with a 292% increase in activity in 2023 compared to 2022. The second-highest year-on-year surge can be seen at Osborne Clarke, which recorded an increase of 86.7% in 2023 compared to 2022. Similarly, Addleshaw Goddard increased its tax vacancies in 2023 by 44% compared to 2022.

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