The Qualification Season 2015: Employment

March 1, 2015

As part of “The Qualification Season” – a series of blogs by CapeClarke aimed at trainee solicitors looking to qualify in September 2015 – 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: The past 12 months provided a real shock in that there was a sea change in the recruitment of employment solicitors.  The previous 18 months had seen employment teams (with the odd exception) report a downturn in work and therefore the 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.  With a drop in contentious employment work, however, a lot of employment teams had been underutilised.  The employment market in the past year, however, was much more buoyant and firms were keen to bolster their teams with quality junior and mid-level lawyers.  Still not at the 2010 levels in the depth of the recession but a significant uplift on the 2013-14 figures.

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, 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 post-recession workload.  In the past, there has been a shortage of good mid-level employment solicitors on the market which meant that those solicitors looking for a move often had a lot of interest from other firms – this is already a thing of the past and the market is flush with 2-5 year PQEs, given the number of solicitors qualifying into this area since 2009.

September 2015 opportunities: Given the rise in vacancies in the past year, we imagine that many of the large or medium-sized law firms will create an internal vacancy for a newly qualified employment solicitor. This is still a really competitive discipline to qualify as a solicitor into with numerous trainees often fighting over one qualification place in the employment department.  Therefore, very few employment newly qualified solicitor roles make into the external market and when they do, they are fiercely contested!  We do not envisage that being any different this year.


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, Newcastle 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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