The Qualification Season 2018: Commercial Contracts

April 8, 2018

As part of The Qualification Season a series of blogs by CapeClarke aimed at trainee solicitors looking to qualify in September 2018 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 next area of law for discussion is Commercial Contracts.

The Current Market

It is surprising to some, but the commercial contracts market has been fairly steady for a number of years.  There were no mass redundancy programmes in the recession, but there was also very little growth.  Teams had been continuing with their freestanding work, as well as providing support to the little transactional work their firms had been involved in.

The past couple of years, however, have seen a sharp increase in commercial, and particularly IT related work; the larger firms have been recruiting very heavily to service this demand.  Mid-tier and smaller firms often combine commercial contracts with company commercial work – they have been relatively steady over time and, whilst opportunities are fewer and further between, they are safe and steady roles.

There has also been an influx in new areas of commercial work, most notably data protection / GDPR. The in-house sector has led this demand, with private practice now cottoning on. As such, we predict there may even be an opportunity to do pure data protection seats in certain large firms, in the near future.

Is this a good career option? 

Generally, a very good career option for the steady nature of the work and market, as outlined above.  It is also still the favoured specialism of companies looking to appoint an in-house lawyer to their ranks, although you are not necessarily precluded by qualifying into another area.  We have also seen more in-house roles at the junior level recently.

One point of caution – try to gain as wide and varied experience as possible. This will help safeguard your career. For example, it is all well and good gaining the best quality IT software licensing experience possible, but if this is an area that starts to be commoditised in the future (which is indeed a current trend), you will start to become less valuable.

September 2018 opportunities

Even though a lot of commercial contracts positions will be swallowed up by internal applications, it looks like there could be a few NQ positions making it on to the market, such is the need to expand teams to cater for the enhanced client work.


If you have been thinking about a move or would just like some general advice about options in the market, please feel free to contact one of our dedicated consultants on 0113 2385965 or 0161 3000750.

CapeClarke is a leading niche legal recruitment consultancy operating across Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, 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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