Where are all the lawyers?

Recently I marked 22 years in the legal recruitment industry and I must say that despite any prediction I had when the pandemic hit the market has gone from strength to strength in terms of demand of high-quality lawyers. I have never seen such a candidate short market previously.

So where have all the candidates gone?

I have a fear of theory that the following key factors are taking place in terms of the lack of supply of lawyers:

  1. Reluctance to move jobs. Lawyers can often be risk averse and it is not surprising that in times of volatility they are reluctant to be the last in for risk of being the first out with a new job.
  2. The closed borders has meant that there has been a reduction in the supply of overseas talent including from New Zealand and UK. This has meant that with the retirement and people moving out of the profession there is a fight amongst existing employers over a finite pool of candidates.
  3. There are less compelling reasons to move. Often you’ll find that lawyers seek to move jobs because of uncomfortable work environments or conflicts with managers. Given the extended lockdowns in states like New South Wales and Victoria,  these potentially conflict scenarios have less opportunity to manifest with people working remotely.  The difficult bosses are sometimes a lot easier to deal with remotely with less contact.
  4. Some lawyers will leave a job because of a long commute. However, with the work from home options currently under lockdown and potentially in the future, an occasional commute becomes less of an incentive to move jobs.
  5. Employers are also understanding the needs of their employees and doing more to keep them happy and are decreasing churn in the market.

Jason Elias

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