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September Round up

September Round up

September has seen a continuation of the market improvements we’ve been experiencing since mid-June.  The challenges Victoria faced (and is facing) has weighed on the recruitment activity of some of the Melbourne firms (or those national/global firms with a major Melbourne presence) but, overall, we’ve seen confidence continue to build and, whilst the market is still a fair way from normal, it’s busy and lawyers seeking a move are back to securing multiple offers in some practice areas.

Still in the highest demand are disputes lawyers; litigation teams large and small need to grow in the face of so much available work.  Echoing the pre-Covid market, against a backdrop of new royal commissions, regulatory disputes and class actions that show no signs of abating, the demand for litigators is significantly outstripping supply.

As the Government continues to invest its way out of economic strife, projects and construction lawyers (back and front-end) are in high demand.  Naturally, and speaking of economic strife, the other side of this coin is undoubtedly the demand for restructuring and insolvency lawyers driven, in part, by the preparations for the removal of the support structures put in place to help businesses ride out the pandemic.

The demand for banking lawyers is still relatively subdued but we were briefed on a number of M&A roles earlier this month with international firms in Sydney.  These roles are a sure-fire demonstration that confidence is up, deal flow has maintained and the run into the end of the year is looking good.

For individuals, the last couple of months has been a challenge for anyone who’d been due a pay rise or a promotion come 1 July.  Some firms have been very successful at managing the messaging around this challenge, and some firms haven’t done quite so well.  There now seems to be some clarity around when lawyers might see some redress but there’s no question that firms seeking to entice people are wielding missed pay rises and promotions to their advantage.

The next couple of months will be interesting as Victoria hopefully returns to normal, bringing with it the last piece of the confidence puzzle.  There’s certainly frustration and anxiety building in some teams as they struggle to find talent and, with the Christmas lull looming, we expect there to be a major focus on getting new starters locked in.  All good news for anyone seeking a move – you’ll have the full attention of the firms and the likelihood of some pretty tempting rewards for those who make the step across.

Matt Harris

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