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Brexit and the legal sector – from a legal recruitment perspective


While the UK Prime Minister has attempted to prorogue Parliament in the lead up to the latest Brexit deadline of October 31st, there is no shutting down for the legal sector and certainly not within legal recruitment. In fact, while the news seems to constantly project the doom and gloom of potentially falling out of the EU without a deal, it still feels like business as usual for law firms in the UK and has done ever since the vote to leave way back in June 2016 (has it really been that long?).


Firms are still recruiting & people are still making moves

Three years have passed and despite the pre-Brexit warnings, the legal sector remains remarkably buoyant. This includes law firm recruitment which, throughout the entire Brexit process and continuing as we (potentially) leave the EU, has remained at the forefront of firm policies. Specific to our region here in the South West, but also more broadly across the country, we are constantly seeing new vacancies arise as firms are proactively keen to continue their growth and press on, rather than wait and see what Brexit brings.


The same can be said for lawyers themselves. Traditionally a conservative beast, it would not have been a surprise had those within the sector decided to sit tight and wait to see what came of Brexit. We’ve seen the opposite in fact, with lawyers realising that their dream job or firm won’t be waiting around for them, and they are therefore still looking to make the career moves that will ultimately better their career.


Brexit proof areas - popular in Bristol

One of the possible reasons why we haven’t experienced the slowdown in legal recruitment that other sectors have is the demand for lawyers within what may be considered “Brexit-proof” areas of law. For example, we have more Insurance and Litigation roles within large firms in Bristol that we can find candidates for. Additionally, Corporate and Commercial vacancies continue to arise across the South West region with firms of all sizes. The demand for Real Estate solicitors also remains strong with the diversity and flexibility of the sector providing a buffer against any dramatic consequences Brexit might provide. Clients will continue to need law firms for this type of work no matter what happens come October 31st and therefore firms are continuing to grow their teams in order to provide the best quality of work.


NQ salaries continue to rise

Not only have we not seen a recruitment stoppage during this period of uncertainty, but salaries continue to rise. NQ salaries in London have recently been all over the legal press with magic circle firms now paying their NQs £100,000+ per year on qualification. This has seen a trickledown effect to the regions as well, with salaries for newly qualified solicitors in Bristol at the top firms now going above £50,000. This in itself will drive up salaries at other firms in the region in order to keep up, as well as the salaries of experienced solicitors. With rising salaries, more flexibility and what is generally renowned as a better work/life balance, Bristol really has become a top regional location for those looking to make a move away from London.


In summary, despite the scary stories in the lead up to the Halloween deadline for Brexit, it’s very much treat rather than trick for recruitment within the legal sector. Firms of all sizes are still hiring and strong and ambitious candidates are still filling these roles. So if you’re unhappy in your current role, ready for your next step, or simply have a dream firm you’d like to work for, don’t use Brexit as an excuse to delay.

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