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London: Market Overview & Salary Survey 2018

legal vacancies london

MARKET OVERVIEW

PRIVATE PRACTICE RECRUITMENT ACTIVITY GLOBAL CONNECTIVITY

Continued expansion by the majority of the large commercial firms in London has led to an increased level of lateral hiring. This activity has been across all disciplines with a focus on corporate, banking, investment funds, construction, projects, energy, regulatory and technology. Competition remains exceptionally high at Associate level with many City firms facing the challenge of retaining their prized lawyers. Firms are also now more actively targeting candidates from outside the City looking to apply for legal vacancies in London.

GLOBAL CONNECTIVITY

In the last two years, we have seen growth within the national law firms with many of them creating stronger and more substantive presences in other cities outside of London. By encouraging collaborative working, the attraction of working as part of a larger organisation is self-evident. This offers lawyers the chance to work on ‘City quality work’ without necessarily relocating. Many firms now have equally as strong international offices which attract lawyers who want to work on global deals and/or have the option of a potential relocation Overseas at some point in the future.

IN-HOUSE & BREXIT

Uncertainty around Brexit has had a direct impact on hiring strategies, in particular within the banking and financial services sector in the City. With what is now an increasingly tougher regulatory environment, the demand for lawyers for the banks has now shifted from transactional experts to risk and compliance expertise.

CITY RELATIONSHIP WITH SCOTLAND & IRELAND

The top-tier and national/ international law firms in London look favourably on Scottish and Irish qualified lawyers and many have been adopting a more strategic approach (notably at the junior end of the market) to attract ambitious lawyers. This trend will continue with City firms advertising the benefits/ salary on offer with a move to London, directly in local markets. Conversely, the London market also recognises that Brexit may also accelerate the thinking of Scottish and Irish lawyers in the City who may be considering their timing for making a return home.

PRIVATE PRACTICE

Recruiting at Associate level remains a priority in London, with many of the ‘magic circle’ and US firms fiercely competing over the best junior to mid-level lawyers. As a result, there is an increasing pay gap between the top-tier firms and the rest of the pack. While many lawyers will not be attracted to the culture of a top-tier firm (and there are many other ‘silver circle’, national and Top 50 alternatives), often the lure of the salary can be difficult to say no to.

2017 saw a higher level of retention of NQ’s in London but equally so due to expansion, we also witnessed an increase in the number of lateral hires at this level- many of which coming from Scotland and Ireland. This trend is predicted to continue into 2018/19.

Demand remains high for Associates with experience in transactional areas including financial services, banking, corporate and a welcomed return to demand in real estate. There has also been an increase in vacancies in construction, projects and technology with a focus on data protection/privacy.

If you are a lawyer from Scotland or Ireland considering a move to London then its often the breadth of your experience and exposure to clients that will appeal to City firms.

Scottish and Irish lawyers with interests in areas such as arbitration, sports law, media, derivatives and capital markets for example, are often more likely to move to London as these disciplines are largely unavailable at home.

At Senior Associate and Partner level, opportunities do exist however the higher up the ladder you go, the higher the expectations. At Partner level this usually involves bringing a client following which can be more challenging.

The expectations of fee-earners in London are well documented and you can expect in most cases to work long-hours. However, you will gain experience working on challenging and complex transactions. This is also countered by working with high quality colleagues and receiving a ‘City’ level salary, allowing you to enjoy the London lifestyle.

IN-HOUSE

The London in-house market remains strong but competition for coveted roles continues to be high. A particular increase in demand for lawyers with regulatory experience (including GDPR for example) is expected in 2018/19.

Lawyers with experience in: construction, energy, funds, regulatory, data protection and financial services from Scotland and Ireland will be of particular interest. As with previous years, there remains a demand for lawyers with experience in trading, pensions and asset management. Additionally, as we progress toward the Brexit date, there will be a higher demand for lawyers with public law, competition and procurement experience.

Growth in the technology sector in London (and the UK generally) is presenting many attractive in-house roles. Practice lawyers with relevant experience can find this a good option for making their first move in-house, especially if they have experience in IT/IP, outsourcing, telecoms or social/ digital media (this is especially relevant for lawyers from the Irish market).

For many lawyers from Scotland and Ireland a direct move to private practice initially when moving to London is an easier transition. It allows you to gain the ‘London’ experience that many companies require. It also demonstrates your commitment and can allow you to take advantage of in-house secondment
opportunities.

  • 9 % THE AVERAGE LEVEL OF PRIVATE PRACTICE BONUS RECEIVED IN THE CITY IN 2017
  • 66% SCOTTISH & IRISH LAWYERS IN LONDON FEEL ‘CITY’ EXPERIENCE WILL BENEFIT THEIR CAREER WHEN THEY RETURN HOME
  • 37% SCOTTISH & IRISH LAWYERS WOULD CONSIDER A MOVE TO THE CITY IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS

SALARY FIGURES- LONDON 2018

Please note our salary survey figures are indicative and are intended to be used for guidance only. Salary figures are based on our existing specialist market knowledge gained in the London market. The above figures are based on salary only and do not include bonus or benefits. For the purpose of this salary, figures are based on positions within commercial law firms and large commercial organisations. Regional salaries and those within smaller law firms and companies will differ. Market commentary is based on discussions with our client and candidate population. Should you wish to have a private and confidential discussion on salaries, packages and market conditions please contact us at info@thomsonlrc.com.

2018 LONDON MARKET PREDICTIONS

Demand for Scottish & Irish Lawyers in the City

As in previously buoyant years, many London firms now have active and successful recruitment drives to seek out the best talent from the Scottish & Irish legal markets. From NQ level to Partner level, we expect 2018/19 to present an exceptionally high number of opportunities available for lawyers from these regions
looking to move to the City.

Major Spike in the Demand for Risk & Regulatory Skills

Changes in regulations and legislative as a result of Brexit will put lawyers with experience of regulatory, risk, compliance and procurement very much in demand in the London market. We expect to see a rise in roles within the top tier private practice firms as well as inhouse banking team. Many of these roles that we saw in 2017 as temporary/ project based will now become permanent.

Multi-Tiered Salary Competition

Lawyers in London receive greater remuneration than anywhere else in the UK, however we are witnessing
many City law firms recognising that they could be doing more on salaries, bonus and benefits. This is resulting in more competition around salaries on offer within the respective US, Magic Circle, Silver Circle,
National and Top 50 law firms.

GDPR & Legal Support

There is no question that GDPR will have a significant impact on the legal sector in London. There is already a rise in the demand for GDPR, data protection and privacy experts both within TMT private practice teams. Additionally, many in-house organisations are now seeking a ‘GDPR expert’ to advise their
business internally and minimise legal risk.

ABOUT THOMSON LEGAL

Thomson Legal was founded by David Thomson, a veteran and leading expert in the legal recruitment market in Scotland. Having worked internationally and with a network of Scottish and global clients, the aim of Thomson Legal is to help candidates with their career moves both domestically and internationally. Thomson Legal is regarded as an innovative and market leading consultancy by clients and candidates alike.

After graduating in Law & Modern Languages from University of Glasgow and working in-house, David moved into legal recruitment in 1999, initially working with legal recruitment specialists Mahlab in Sydney, Australia. After returning and working in the UK and Ireland, David has built up the reputation of being an expert in his field working with leading global recruitment companies including Taylor Root, Hays Legal and Hudson. David provides strategic advice and recruitment assistance to major international
law firms and FTSE 100 companies and works with market leaders in the UK, Ireland, Europe, Offshore, the Middle East, Australia and Asia Pacific. For more information of to discuss how Thomson Legal can help you with your legal career, please get in touch.

CONTACT THOMSON LEGAL: 
Edinburgh:  +44 (0) 131 450 7164
Glasgow:     +44 (0) 141 244 0260
Aberdeen: +44 (0) 1224 502 044
London:      +44 (0) 203 174 2482

Dublin:       +353 (0) 1 699 1360
Mobile:       +44 (0) 775 380 9223

Email:         david@thomsonlrc.com
Website:     www.thomsonlrc.com

https:/uk.linkedin.com/in/davidbthomson

@thomsonlrc

Thomson Legal Recruitment Company

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