Legal market cools slightly in Second Quarter FY18

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The end of 2017 saw a slight drop in legal hiring, with a slight 4.49% decrease in legal jobs advertised from the first to second quarter FY18. This may in part be due to the Christmas break, with many offices winding down activity over summer. This reflects an overall buoyancy in the legal market, led by property, Corporate/ M&A and litigation roles.
In-house positions enjoyed strong growth, with 30 in-house jobs advertised across Company/ Commercial and Corporate/ M&A. This marked a 200% increase on the previous quarter. Other sectors to contract included Company/ Commercial, Property, Banking/ Finance, Insurance, IP/ Technology/ Media, Employment, Tax, and Competition/ Compliance.
However, several sectors experienced some growth, including Energy, Insolvency, Corporate/ M&A, Criminal and Pro Bono.
The end of the calendar year saw relatively steady hiring figures in Litigation/ Dispute Resolution, Personal Injury and Family Law, according to the Elias Legal Jobs Index.

Major gains in energy and in-house

The Energy sector was one of the biggest winners in the second quarter of FY18, with a jump from 1 position to 5 over the two quarters. This may reflect Australia’s shift to renewables as energy costs soar, with NSW now receiving one-fifth of its energy from renewable sources. Increasing compliance requirements ahead of the Federal Government’s new National Energy Guarantee may also be bumping up demand for energy lawyers.
In-house also made gains as companies, banks and the Big 4 bulked up on internal teams. Banks represented 26% of in-house hires in the second quarter of FY18. As an area consistently in demand, this will be good news for many lawyers currently in private practice.
The upshot? With legal hires continuing to be steady despite increasing competition from New Law and the Big 4, it’s a promising market for candidates.

The full picture

See the table below for a complete breakdown of where each vacancy was across Q1 2018 and Q2 2018:

AreaQ1 2018
Q2 2018
% change
Litigation/Dispute Resolution5654-3.57%
Personal Injury1312-7.7%
Competition/ Compliance 13931%

Jason Elias runs Elias Recruitment, a boutique legal recruitment consultancy that specialises in finding lawyers for law firms, NFPs and corporate in-house teams. For more information, email [email protected]

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