Has Coronavirus infected the legal job market? Elias Legal Job Index 2020

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The Elias Legal Jobs Index is compiled quarterly and identifies changes in legal job ad volume in NSW and Victoria, by practice area and by role seniority. Changes in job ad volume reflect hiring intentions, and is often used as an indicator of market confidence.  

In this quarter’s analysis, we have compared data from Q4 FY20 versus Q3 FY20, to assess the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.  We have also compared data from Q4 FY20 versus Q4 FY19, to assess the change versus the same time last year.

Across all practice areas, there was a decrease of 55% between Q4 FY20 versus Q3 FY20.  The biggest decreases in ads were in Regulatory Law (-92%) and In House (-85%).  Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, Family Law increased by 25%, and Tax Law and Energy Law both remained stable both at 0%.

When comparing Q4 FY20 versus Q4 FY19, there was a decrease of 56% across all practice areas, with Regulatory Law (-94%) and In House (-87%) being the main contributors.  Banking and Finance (0%) and Energy (0%) were the best performers, albeit only remaining stable.

Elias Recruitment director and recent winner of RCSA’s Australian Recruitment Leader of Year, Jason Elias noted- anecdotally there was also an upswing in employment law as the changes to Jobkeeper were announced and as firms were laying off or dismissing staff. 

When comparing job ad volume by seniority, there was a decrease of 64% when comparing Q4 FY20 to Q3 FY20.  The biggest contributors to this were Mid Associate / Manager level roles at -68%, and Graduate / Entry level roles at -67%.  Director level roles remained stable.

When comparing Q4 FY20 versus Q4 FY19, there was a decrease of 71% across all role levels, the biggest contributors being Graduate / Entry (-88%) and Mid Associate / Manager (-78%).

It is clear that the Legal sector has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, except for Family Law which saw growth, likely due to forced lockdowns causing stress on many families.  

With metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire having Stage 3 lockdown re-inforced, compared to Sydney, which at the time of writing this report having not re-introduced lockdowns, it will be interesting to see what the Q1 FY21 job ad data shows.

Previous Elias Legal Jobs Index reports have shown that the 1st quarter is often one of the most active of the year as new budgets are formulated. Given what 2020 has produced so far- this is unlikely to be any quick snap-back. 

AreaQ3 FY20Q4 FY20% changeQ4 FY19% change
Banking & Finance3623-36%230%
In House213-85%23-87%
Personal Injury134-69%11-18%
Restructuring & Insolvency92-77%8-75%
Specialist 3813-65%73-82%
Technology and Media196-38%19-68%


SeniorityQ3 FY20Q4 FY20% ChangeQ4 FY19% Change
Department/Div Head75-29%4-20%
Graduate / Entry31-67%8-88%
Junior Associate / Manager1810-44%32-69%
Mid Associate / Manager17956-68%259-78%
Snr Associate / Manager10148-52%127-62%

Jason Elias is the Founder and CEO of Elias Recruitment, a boutique legal recruitment consultancy that specialises in finding lawyers for law firms, NFPs, and corporate in-house teams. 

If you would like further insight into the legal recruitment market then please contact Jason on [email protected]

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