Legal Market Update – January 2015

Happy New Year! We hope you had a restful Christmas and January break and have come back refreshed and ready to kick off the 2015 business year! In the first of our series of posts on the Perth legal jobs market, we examine current market conditions and key recruitment trends for the new calendar year…

january 2015, legal market update, perth legal jobs market

The current market

Local market conditions continue to be challenged, with the most recent NAB Business survey revealing that business confidence declined in December, off the back of falling profits and sales and lower levels of employment in mining. According to ABS stats, the unemployment rate rose in December to 6%, doing nothing to help build optimism in the market as we start off a new business year.

What does this mean for the local legal jobs market?

Job vacancies and employment levels generally fluctuate over the Christmas and January period, as Perth takes a break from business. We have however been frantically busy since our return on 5 January, with many employers struggling to fill key vacancies in increasingly candidate short areas.

Although some recruitment processes were naturally delayed in January, with key decision makers taking the opportunity to take some leave during the quieter period, many of these vacancies are now becoming urgent to fill.

New candidate enquiries have also picked up significantly this week after the Australia Day long weekend. Seemingly, many individuals were enjoying a well deserved rest over the January break and have now decided to do something about those new year job resolutions!

Key Trends for 2015

Increasing skills shortages
Last year I reported that skills shortages had started to appear within particular practice areas. Although this was the case for much of 2014, not all employers started to act. I can think of numerous examples where employers have had open vacancies for over 6 months now. Why? On part, this is because volumes of candidates within these areas simply don’t exist – Banking & Finance or Workplace Relations are prime examples.

Firms also remain extremely considered in their recruitment processes, are taking the time to explore a range of candidates in the market and are only choosing to hire quality candidates, that they feel are 100% right for the role, long term. This in itself is not a bad thing. However, we do anticipate a continued increased in skill shortages throughout 2015, resulting in increased pressure on teams that are not moving quickly to alleviate gaps and further competition for quality talent.

Opportunities with new players in the Perth market
2015 has already seen transition of top tier lawyers to mid tier or boutique practices, in some instances to take up partnership opportunities elsewhere. With new boutiques opening up in Perth, interstate firms establishing a presence here or firms that have opened up in recent years planning to expand their local teams, we expect lateral recruitment in 2015 to continue.

Global resources & trends
National and global firms are taking advantage of internal resources to relocate or second lawyers in the first instance, many very successfully. We are also seeing the continued attraction of Australian lawyers to UK, the Middle East and Asia, as global markets improve. We expect both trends to continue throughout the year.

In-house lawyers have experienced further redundancies, particularly within mining and mining services. Many of these positions were mid to senior level management roles, with companies rehiring at a more junior level. Volumes of in-house positions are expected to remain low, with increased competition for advertised roles. Hiring is also expected to continue in non mining related industry sectors. As a result of declining in-house positions, many mid to senior in-house lawyers are now actively considering opportunities back in private practice.

Related Posts
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