Simon Chadwick of Espero Consulting shares the real data and what that means for associate and partner hires and leavers across the major European law firms in January 2017…

If you have caught up with my articles in the last quarter of 2016, you would have read that the findings from research commissioned by Espero Consulting show that the Top 100 law firms in Europe hired more than 800 new lawyers at partner or associate level in October 2016. The number of partners and associates those firms lost in October was close to 600 – a far higher figure than the previous month’s leavers figure of 50.

So what do the January 2017 figures for leavers and joiners across the Top 100 law firms in Europe tell us?

The number of partners and associates who left those law firms in January was a figure of just short of 2,700 – a massive hike in the number of leavers. This ramps up the leavers trend we witnessed towards the end of 2016. It is now obvious that good quality law firm candidates are finding new homes at an increasing rate; clearly willing to move now, unperturbed by the sweeping changes to the political and economic landscapes we are all witnessing.

The number of partners and associates who joined the Top 100 law firms in Europe in January this year was a figure just higher than 800 – almost exactly the same number as we recorded towards the end of 2016.

The January figures are really interesting. For me they tell the true story of how mindset can influence hiring trends.

Clearly, on the one hand, candidates have the confidence to move now. This confidence may be set against a strong and growing UK economy and it may also be triggered by weakening conditions in other parts of Europe. On the other hand though it is also a bellwether for the issues ahead that are facing this group of law firms – unless their own confidence catches up with and matches that of their talented lawyers. Right now, many of those law firms lack the confidence they need.

It is well known that larger law firms have placed the onus on retention, yet despite this, very good lawyers are leaving their firms and moving relatively freely in the market. It is only a short hop from now to the immense pressure on law firms that results from a shortage of talent. It is simply not sustainable for law firms to lose people at a rate of three times higher than that at which they are replacing.

These latest figures back up our own thoughts at Espero Consulting – that law firms urgently need to renew their hiring strategies and stake a claim for the available talent whilst top-drawer candidates are still available. For more information contact the author, Simon Chadwick of Espero Consulting +44 7985 198 578 or simon.chadwick@esperoconsulting.com