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Could you be capitalising on the talent gap?

As has become apparent over the last few years, there is a very clear talent gap emerging in the law. There is a severe lack of qualified individuals at the 0-5 years’ PQE level due to the years in the recession where law firms either made solicitors redundant or didn’t hire at all.

The emergence of the talent gap, in simple terms, means that the demand for candidates outweighs the supply of candidates. This is allowing candidates to capitalise on opportunities that may not have previously been open to them.

In the ‘boom’ years, pre-recession, we witnessed candidates making significant steps in terms of their career. At its height we saw one candidate (1 year’s PQE) who moved from a high street law firm in the east of England to a City law firm and received a £40,000 salary increase in the process.

In the years following, the UK entered recession and the majority of law firms responded to the downturn in the economy by making solicitors in less buoyant practice areas redundant and/or cutting back on their trainee intake. As a result, the number of trainees qualifying in to commercial practice areas fell dramatically and the candidates that were left had fewer opportunities to move, creating the now evident talent gap.

More recently, as the economy has improved, law firms are experiencing a significant upturn in client instructions and the subsequent increase in demand for solicitors at 0-5 years’ PQE in areas like commercial, intellectual property, commercial property, construction and corporate is enabling candidates to once again make career enhancing moves.

We are now witnessing situations where law firms are recruiting candidates who have little, and in some circumstances no, experience in the practice area for which they’re being recruited, especially in commercial property. Candidates are also finding it possible to make the move from small high street practices to national and international law firms due to the heightened demand for talent.

The nature of the current market is such that law firms are now keenly recognising the importance of talent, both in the attraction of and retention of good quality candidates. This has led to a refocus on what candidates are looking for and firms are now making positive steps towards offering a work/life balance, genuine career development opportunities and/or increased salaries.

It seems times are changing and candidates now very much have the upper hand. As a consequence they are able to take advantage of the market to achieve what is most important to them in their work life and at the same secure a significant increase in salary.

To find out more about what the new generation of lawyers think about such things as work/life balance, partnership and salaries please see the results of our recent survey at our website.

Richard Betts, Legal Recruitment Consultant with Bygott Biggs

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Bygott Biggs Legal Recruitment Ltd, 6 Clarendon Street, Nottingham NG1 5HQ

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