Legal market surges in third quarter FY18

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Following a small seasonal Christmas dip, the market bounced back by nearly 50% in most areas.

The first three calendar months of 2018 have seen a major growth in legal hiring, with a 50% increase in legal jobs advertised from the second to third quarter FY18 (compare results ‘Legal market cools slightly in Second Quarter FY18‘). According to the Elias Legal Jobs Index for Sydney and Melbourne, this seasonal trend is common within the legal sector, with many firms closing over the Christmas period and consequently hiring fewer candidates during the final month of the second quarter.

This sharp spike in the legal market may also be attributed to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s 2018 Economic Outlook, which forecast an overall GDP growth for 2018, in addition to a slight decline in the national unemployment rate from December 2017.

Criminal roles enjoyed the highest percentage growth, with 26 jobs advertised – a resounding 766.7% increase on the previous quarter. Other sectors to witness a triple digit percentage increase included banking/ finance, personal injury, employment, family, and insolvency.

The only areas to see a decline from the second quarter were corporate/ M&A (with a decrease from 45 roles to 32), pro bono (with a decrease from two roles to one), and energy (with a decrease from five roles to two).

In-house jobs soar in third quarter FY18

In terms of raw numbers, in-house saw the largest growth across the quarter, with 96 roles – 51 more than the previous quarter – being advertised. The increased demand for in-house lawyers could be due to a number of economic factors, including an end to the 2011-2017 income recession; a rise in Australia’s resources exports; improved investor sentiment; and a boost in Australian company profits in response to rising incomes in Asia.

Based on the RBA’s forecasts for the remainder of the calendar year, lawyers can expect the positive hiring trends of third quarter FY18 to continue.

The full picture

See the table below for a complete breakdown of where each vacancy was across Q2 and Q3 2018:

AreaQ2 2018
Q3 2018
% change
Corporate/ Commercial2530+20%
Corporate/ M&A4532-28.89%
Banking/ Finance2552+108%
Litigation/ Dispute Resolution5464+18.52%
IP/ Technology/ Media1416+14.29%
Personal Injury1224+100%
Competition/ Compliance 913+44.44%
Total319 478+49.84%
Role seniorityQ2 2018Q3 2018% Change
Mid-level (eg. Senior Associate, Legal Counsel)184414+125%
Junior (Associate)106-40%


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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