Legal Market Update Q2 2016

John Macklin / July 12, 2016

Legal Market
As we neared the end of Q2 and the ever-closer Brexit vote the legal recruitment market began to slow down. Law firms are notoriously reactionary, and whenever there is uncertainty they like to take a ‘wait and see’ approach to recruitment decisions.

Since the (surprise) Brexit result, the market has picked back up and we have not seen any negative consequences despite the fact that the result was one that no Irish Law Firms were in favour of.

Opportunity

There could, of course be great opportunities for lawyers in this new post-brexit world.  There could be an influx of new companies to Ireland to take advantage of our continued access to the free market. Many contracts may have to be renegotiated with depending on what EU laws the UK decide to accept and which ones they reject. Many clients will certainly be seeking advisory counsel on what this all means to them, their overseas offices, staff, and existing contracts.  Law Firms Clifford Chance and Dechert both established Brexit Hotlines (24 hour hotlines no less!) for their clients to contact them on.

One of the consequences of Brexit was an unprecedented number of UK Lawyers being admitted to practice in Ireland, as once the UK leaves the EU, UK Lawyers will not be permitted to argue cases before the European courts.

Key Trends

Irish Law firms have started to recruit normally again. Shortages of good solicitors remain in the areas of Corporate Law, Tax, Financial Services Regulation, and Capital Markets. Experienced Funds Lawyers are constantly in demand with both Law firms and in-house.

There has been a lot movement of solicitors moving from Mid-Tier firms to the Top 6 firms (many of whom are keen to gain bigger ticket experience) and a contra flow of candidates from the Big 6 to the mid-tier firms in order to have a better work-life balance. You could say ‘the grass is always greener’ etc.

While there has been movement at partner level in the market it has not been as active at this level as last year. This is most likely due to firms matching the financial and career aspirations of junior partners and therefore powdering any ‘itchy feet’.

Salaries continue to rise for junior solicitors in the commercial law firms (although at nowhere the rate of increase that we saw over the past two years), and bonuses have been described a ‘healthy’ and ‘generous’.

What can we expect for the remainder of 2016?

Heading into the second half of the year we are expecting a significant increase in new roles in both private practice and in-house. The market will continue to be one driven by a shortage of suitably qualified candidates.

If you are thinking of a move this Q3, for a confidential discussion please contact me on jmacklin@lincoln.ie or call 01 661 0444.

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