Simon Chadwick of Espero Consulting summarises the current state of play for the law firm staffing market. He also looks at the opportunities in 2017 and gives valuable insight to enable you to create a competitive advantage whether you are hiring lawyers or considering moving firms yourself as a partner, associate or paralegal…

Brexit, Trump and the end of the budgetary year

The shockwaves created by these two results have led to a state of torpor among the elite firms in the UK and Europe. As the World gets used to a new order of things, this torpidity will lift. Fast.

The true underlying state of the legal staffing market is a shortage of talent and a high demand for that talent. Thus firms will start to become more active during the early months of 2017 – leading directly once more to an acute need and heightened competition for top quality lawyers. It is likely that the US firms in London will lead off – many have a December year-end –  thus fresh budgets for hiring will kick in during January. The bulk of the top UK and European firms and some US firms who have a March year-end will follow later in Q1 2017.

This year in 2016, we have seen some remarkable sights – Oxbridge First Magic Circle disputes associates, tax partners with followings and top-notch corporate M&A associates having to wait longer for a move. In 2017 they will all be snapped up as law firms return to the matter at hand – how to recruit talented lawyers in a market where supply is tight.

How to prioritise and create a competitive advantage in 2017

1 Prioritise international growth

It is likely that a Brexit will be softer than some had feared and that Trump will open the access to a wider trading platform for the USA, the UK and some other European countries. Already many business people perceive greater opportunities to make profit on a more global basis. It seems certain that any law firm with an international presence will have greater opportunity in 2017 than ever before. So, strategically, law firms should prioritise their opportunities for international business.

2 Hire lawyers who understand Europe and international trade

Inked into law firm strategy for 2017 should be a hiring policy around the opportunities offered by both Brexit and Trump. Thus it also makes sense for law firms to prioritise the hiring of those lawyers who can provide an interpretation of the new emerging trade markets for their clients – and the hiring of those lawyers who can translate the opportunities offered by Brexit as this unfolds early next year.

Competition, corporate, banking, funds, regulatory, disputes, tax, capital markets, IP and private wealth lawyers from recognised firms will be in high demand in 2017 at partner, associate, senior associate and paralegal levels.

 3 Pick a law firm that prioritises international growth

As a lawyer considering a move in 2017, one would do well to consider law firms with an international outlook.

Thank you for paying attention to this article and to other similar articles I and my colleagues at Espero Consulting have published in 2016.

I wish you a happy and restful Festive Season and a prosperous New Year.

Simon Chadwick

Espero Consulting

December 2016