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Legal market in Ireland showing clear signs of growth

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2016 was an exceptionally interesting year, with economic activity increasing and then coming under threat from the impending Brexit. That being said, there seems to be no ceasing in companies and firms in Ireland growing their legal divisions. There has been a lot of conflicting commentary over the timing and potential impact of Brexit on the global economy and in this context Ireland’s prospects post-Brexit.  Whilst no one can be sure, Ireland seems to be the “Hot Topic” when it comes to companies and firms discussing post-Brexit life. Ireland is an obvious choice when it comes to top UK law firms and companies contemplating a move of headquarters.  That being said, the pressure is on for Ireland to prove that our infrastructure can handle this growth. Lawyers have been and will continue to play a key role in any development in this area, and thus we anticipate an upsurge in legal recruitment continuing throughout the rest of 2017.

 

UK, Australian and New Zealand Returners

As a result of the recession and personal circumstances, many Irish legal graduates or professionals moved to different jurisdictions to either begin or continue their legal careers.  This could be attributed to the fact that people were not being trained in certain areas of law linked to a strong economy such as corporate, commercial, banking, construction etc. As such, there is a gap in the market at this level (NQ to 5PQE).  Our clients are keen to speak with those who may be interested in a return home and Brexit is expected to increase the flow of people back to Ireland from the UK.  It is always a personal choice however, and salaries in London are at an all-time high. Given the busy construction and energy market in Australia and New Zealand, we are finding that Irish returners from these jurisdictions can offer amongst other things strong non-contentious advisory and contentious experience in large scale projects.  The newly adopted construction contracts act in Ireland draws similarities to legislation in New Zealand and Australia so this experience is very relevant.

 

“Hot Property” in the Legal and Company Secretarial Market

Whilst recruitment is steady across a variety of legal disciplines in Ireland, it is clear that certain areas are in strong demand.  We are finding that all leading commercial firms are seeking transactional lawyers in the areas of banking, funds, corporate and commercial property. ICSA company secretaries will continue to be in high demand throughout 2017 both in-house and in legal and accountancy practices, given the implications of the Companies Act 2014.  Company secretaries with experience across investment funds are required across financial services and legal practices and these professionals often attract a higher salary. On the in-house side, companies continue to grow their legal and regulatory teams and people with niche experience in areas such as pharmaceutical, financial regulation, utilities, telecoms, aviation etc. are highly sought after.

 

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Partner/Senior Associate Recruitment

Experienced hires are often a strategic move and it is important for candidates to know their worth.  If a candidate can offer a skill set in a particular niche or emerging market or has a strong following of clients, law firms are more than happy to consider taking advantage of this and many leading firms hired in 2016 at a senior level.

 

NQ Market

The market is highly competitive at this level.  Despite strong retention levels in Ireland, firms have needed to add to their offering to avoid lateral moves and relocations to London, off shore jurisdictions or the Middle East.

 

In-House

2016 was a busy year for in-house recruitment with candidates strongly motivated to move in-house from practice. Areas of growth include aviation, pharmaceutical, FinTech, life sciences, asset management, funds etc. Continued FDI in Ireland and the possibility that Brexit will increase demand, should create further opportunities during 2017.

 

Private Practice

2016 saw private practices focus on sourcing London returners as competition for talent increased, with 3-5 years PQE the in-demand level of experience. With strong solicitors often lost to in-house departments, law firms are placing a lot of emphasis on the non-tangible benefits they can offer their talent. Money often dictates whether talent will move on and law firms are increasingly flexible to attract lateral movers.
With regard to salaries in the legal sector the race is on for legal talent and some firms are increasing their salaries to prevent their trainees from leaving upon qualification. There is also a growing amount of flexibility in terms of what firms are willing to offer. The banded salary model often does not exist when it comes to a specialist lawyer or a strong candidate returning from London. When it comes to senior candidates, your salary offer will often come down to a business case (i.e. what clients/fees can you bring to the firm). The Legal market in Ireland (and particularly Dublin) is continuing to show clear signs of growth. Lawyers are key partners to businesses and levels of recruitment both in-house and in practice indicate economic confidence.
2016 has been an exceptionally interesting year, with economic activity increasing and then coming under threat from the impending Brexit. That being said, there seems to be no ceasing in companies and firms in Ireland growing their legal divisions.

 

Check out our Legal and Compliance Salary Guide here.

 

If you are looking for specialist advice please contact Cailim Boyle, Senior Legal & Compliance Recruitment Consultant

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Tel: (0)1 4744617

Email: cboyle@sigmar.ie

 

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