The Qualification Season 2018: Employment

March 1, 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 first area of law for discussion is Employment.



The Current Market

What a difference a year makes!  This time last year, employment teams seemed nicely balanced and unwilling to expand due to the introduction of tribunal fees in 2013.  Consequently, there were very few opportunities to qualify into employment or move firms as a qualified solicitor.

Following the ruling in  R (on the application of UNISON) (Appellant) v Lord Chancellor (Respondent) in July 2017, whereby the Supreme Court ruled that the Government had acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally in introducing tribunal fees, employment teams are anticipating an increase in workstreams, with some firms already preparing for the future by adding quality solicitors to their teams.  We can only see this trend continuing over the next 12 months.

With the additional point that employment law could be the main discipline affected by Brexit,  it will be interesting to see the effect on activity levels in the coming years as the UK leaves the EU.

Is this a good career option?

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) and most teams offer clients an advisory service usually based around set rates or retainers.  The downturn in employment activity is partly aided by the fact that almost every large or medium sized firm recruited quite heavily in employment during the recession, meaning there were 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 changed for a few years given the heightened qualification opportunities in 2009-10 but we are now back to a position where there is interest in quality.

 September 2018 opportunities

Given the tribunal change ruling mentioned above, we imagine most large or medium-sized law firms will create at least one internal vacancy for a newly qualified employment solicitor and, consequently, we could see some roles slip into the external market. However, this is still a really competitive discipline to qualify into as a solicitor with numerous trainees often fighting over one qualification place in the employment department.  Whatever happens this year, the position for trainees looking to qualify into employment law is infinitely better than it was last year!


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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