uk and eu flags

Chadwick Nott: Getting Recruitment Done


As 2019 comes to a close, it seems we are now completely immersed in the era of the simple slogan. If Chadwick Nott had to choose one, it would be extremely tempting to use something like Get Recruitment Done. 

The only difficulty with a snappy strapline like this, however, is that it will probably not adequately convey all the complexities involved in actually getting recruitment done in the current legal market we operate in. So, in an attempt to put some more meat on the bones, this blog will hopefully provide a little more insight into where, when and how Chadwick Nott got recruitment done in 2019 and how we expect to do so in 2020…


While I am delighted to report that in the final analysis Chadwick Nott had its most successful year ever in 2019, the legal market itself was not a consistent one over the entire 12 month period.  After an exceptionally busy first half of the year: the July Conservative leadership race, the ensuing prorogation controversy and then the high stakes no-deal drama around the October 31 Brexit deadline, all factored in to many lawyers and law firms not jumping back into their normal legal recruitment patterns after the summer. As a result, we experienced much more reserved levels of activity in September and October than would usually be expected. Interestingly however, to balance this out we saw a large spike in both in-house and law firm recruitment activity in November and December to finally get the year done.


Despite a quieter third quarter, the London and offshore law firm markets ultimately enjoyed a very busy 2019 with US firms continuing their aggressive expansion plans in the City, the magic circle firms breaking the £100,000 salary barrier for NQs and recruitment at all levels continuing across the offshore law firms in the Channel Islands and the Caribbean. Corporate, private equity, technology and funds practice groups all remained busy, while finance and construction were much quieter.


Our South West, South East, Midlands and North teams all saw a much more stable recruitment pattern in 2019 compared to London, with salaries increasing steadily again for most major regional legal centres and demand continuing from high-street right up to national firm level for private client, family, litigation, employment, corporate and commercial law talent.

Real Estate has in the main remained stable this year but it has definitely not reached the same buoyant levels we saw in 2017. Insurance practices on the other hand have been expanding regionally with new players entering the North and South West markets in particular where they have adopted a focus on higher value insurance work in anticipation of the upcoming legislative changes in the sector.


We were delighted to get our national law firm HR recruitment business launched in 2019. This now sits alongside our list of other growing business streams that have been established over the last five years at Chadwick Nott, including our PSL, Alternative Careers, Public Sector, Risk & Compliance and CILEx & Paralegal teams.


2019 saw our regional interim business achieve its best ever results. In London we have seen more document review and interim project instructions coming in directly from in-house commercial teams, as well as the demand for foreign language skills still remaining very high for bespoke projects. As a whole though, the interim market became much more efficient this year with increasingly powerful AI technology improving the speed of completion for projects. The next change on the horizon for the UK interim legal market will be the change in IR35 rules coming into effect in April 2020, which is likely to create a period of adjustment for clients and lawyers during the first half of the year.


While we did not see the number of job vacancies reduce greatly at any time during 2019, we did notice a significantly increased number of lawyers resisting the temptation to dip their feet into the recruitment market to explore their next possible career progression moves, particularly during the second half of the year.  With the unusually high number of major political and Brexit related events that were still up in the air between July and December 2019, this trend was completely understandable. With the New Year promising to offer more clarity, we expect to see new proactivity from lawyers  seeking new career opportunities.


With a decisive Conservative majority now in place and a hard December 2020 deadline looking likely for Brexit, all eyes in the business, legal and recruitment sectors are bound to be focused on the direction of travel of upcoming negotiations. From Chadwick Nott’s perspective, based on the evidence of the recruitment trends we have seen in 2019, the ideal environment for getting legal recruitment done in 2020 will be a smooth and orderly transition negotiation process that greatly reduces the chance of a no-deal scenario. If events do play out in that fashion, we expect the legal sector will continue to show the incredible resilience it has displayed over the last four years and continue to Get Recruitment Done in 2020.

This blog is only a brief snapshot of our legal market in 2019. In order to get a more detailed picture of what is happening in your specific area for 2020, please contact a relevant member of our team. We have specialists across the country with expertise in private practice, in-house, international, interim, document review, CILEx, paralegals, law firm HR, alternative careers and the public sector ready to help.


How useful did you find this article?
Thank you for your feedback!
5.0 / 5.0