The Qualification Season 2013: Employment

March 28, 2013

As part of The Qualification Season – a series of blogs by CapeClarke aimed at trainee solicitors looking to qualify in September 2013- we will give a brief overview of the market conditions affecting many of the core legal disciplines that trainee solicitors look to qualify into.

The first area of law for discussion is Employment.

The Current Market: In contrast to previous years, employment teams (with the odd exception) have reported a downturn in work and therefore utilisation of its solicitors.  We are living in a financially turbulent world, which has resulted in mass redundancy programmes, restructuring and a lot of contentious employment work.  The typical employment solicitor has been worked very hard in the last 4 years!  With a drop in contentious employment work, however, a lot of employment teams have been underutilised particularly in the last 6 months of the financial year.

Is this a good career option? While it would be wrong to say any type of law is recession-proof, being an employment solicitor has always been regarded as probably as close as there is.  Employment solicitors will generally be in demand in a bad financial climate (as discussed above), but also during good times (working on more transactional work or providing clients with a more advisory service – drafting the company’s employment handbooks, for instance).  The downturn in employment activity is partly aided by the fact that almost every large or medium sized firm recruited quite heavily in employment, meaning there are too many bodies for a pre-recession workload.  In the past, there has been a shortage of good mid-level employment solicitors on the market, this may change in coming years, given the number of solicitors qualifying into this area since 2009.

September 2013 opportunities: Be warned – this next section does not make for happy reading!  Ordinarily, we would imagine that most large or medium-sized law firms would create an internal vacancy for a newly qualified employment solicitor. However, given the under-utilisation of existing teams, we suspect this number will drop this year – indeed, a couple of firms have been reported as making redundancies in employment.  Moreover, this is still the most competitive discipline to qualify as a solicitor into with numerous trainees fighting over one qualification place in the employment department (recently, one national firm had around ten internal trainees from around the country applying for one vacancy in the North!).  Therefore, very few employment newly qualified solicitor roles make into the external market and when they do, they are fiercely contested!

If you would like to discuss this blog, have been thinking about a move or would just like some general advice about options in the market, please feel free to contact Terry Cape or Chris Clarke on 0113 2385965.

CapeClarke is a leading niche legal recruitment consultancy operating across Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool and London. Please feel free to check out our priority legal vacancies by clicking here.  Please note these legal vacancies are only a small selection of those we have been instructed on, so please get in touch if you do not see a role which looks suitable.

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