What’s happening in the legal jobs market? March 2021

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The Elias Legal Jobs Index is compiled regularly and provides an insight into 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 latest analysis, we have compared data from Q1 FY21 (Jul-Sep 2020) versus Q2 FY21 (Oct-Dec 2020) to assess the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Across all practice areas, there was an increase of 22% in the number of roles advertised. The only practice area with a meaningful decrease in ads was Insurance- which may have been affected by anticipated slashing of the iCare workers comp panel in NSW.[1]

The largest growth was in Banking & Finance, Corporate / M & A, Regulatory, Property, Construction and Employment Law. Given the increase in business confidence with the relative control of the pandemic,this is no surprise (business confidence rose 9pts to +12 index points in November.)[2]

There was a 1,600% increase in Banking and Finance roles. Elias Recruitment Director and recent winner of Talint International’s Business Leader of the Year, Jason Elias, noted this was due to a surge in business confidence, low interest rates and pent up demand from deals put on hold during the uncertain early days of the pandemic.

When comparing job ad volume by seniority, there was a decrease of 600% of graduate roles but this needs to take into account the seasonal recruitment of graduates over the spring/summer period. It is however a positive sign that firms are investing in graduate programs and hiring early career lawyers.

There was a 40% increase in roles for Division Heads and Senior Associates but a corresponding 40% dip in Partner level roles being advertised.

It is clear that the Legal sector was adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in the first few months of the pandemic but towards the back half of 2020, demand snapped back dramatically.

Anecdotally, many firms were noting that they had never been busier and many were off Jobkeeper pretty quickly. There are also some who have mentioned increased profitability with the government subsidies, rent reductions and some reduced staffing costs (eg front of house and temp support staff has drastically been reduced).

The start of 2021 has continued this trend and we look forward to presenting the stats on the next quarter shortly.

AreaQ1 FY21Q2 FY21% change
Banking & Finance1171,600%
Corporate / M&A1031210%
Financial Services / Funds990%
In House126123-2%
Insurance / Reinsurance4239-7%
Litigation / Dispute Resolution252812%
Real Estate71386%
SeniorityQ1 FY21Q2 FY21% change
Department / Div Head5740%
Director / Partner53-40%
Graduate / Entry06600%
Junior Associate / Manager111318%
Mid Associate / Manager14416414%
Snr Associate / Manager10314440%

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.

[1] https://www.icare.nsw.gov.au/news-and-stories/icare-selects-new-legal-service-provider-panel-for-workers-compensation#gref

[2] https://business.nab.com.au/monthly-business-survey-november-2020-43972/

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