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Geez Lawyers are hard to find at the moment….

Geez Lawyers are hard to find at the moment….

Are you a corporate, real estate, employment, litigation, construction or pretty much any partner or general counsel and finding it increasingly hard to secure quality talent? If it is any consolation you are not the only one!

I have been recruiting in legal for over 16 years, and while I have certainly seen busier markets, I can think of only a handful of other occasions when we have had such a candidate short market; particularly between the 3-8 years PAE.

Why is that you ask?

  • Firstly the market has bounced back hard from the initial shock of COVID and we are all just incredibly busy across most industry sectors.
  • As such most top-tier, international, mid-tier and boutique firms are all looking for the same expertise, at the same level, at the same time.
  • You combine this with an ‘out of control’ in-house market and you are starting to see the picture.
  • This is only further exacerbated by a new wave of quality associate and senior associate lawyers in the M&A, banking, TMT, litigation, energy and projects space starting to migrate over to London, New York, San Francisco, Singapore and Hong Kong.
  • With no room to bring in the usual steady stream of overseas qualified lawyers from the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada and USA into Australia, the picture is complete.

The international lawyers are coming….. but probably not for another 6 months.

So (aside from using Montgomery Advisory exclusively) what to do now?

  • If your recruitment process isn’t tight, then now is the time to put it under the microscope. Some things that might be worth contemplating:
    • Ensure you have a fast turnaround time from CV in, to interview arranged. Death by committee or CV’s sitting in a partner’s in boxes aren’t going to help your chances.
    • Make sure the right people are attending the interview, rather than those that are available.
    • What style of interview will you employ? Believe it or not candidates are happy to be interviewed, rather than you going directly into sell mode. So put them through their paces and when/if you decide they are the right candidate then go into sell mode (you don’t want to look too desperate).
    • Ensure your salary benchmarking is accurate so you are not missing out because of an underwhelming offer. Think about sign on bonuses for the right candidate.
    • Culture and flexibility are becoming increasingly more important, so ensure that partners are educated around this piece and can talk to firm benefits.
  • Think about employing a short-term contractor while you search for the ideal candidate, which let’s be honest might take 6 months.
  • Ensure you are engaging your existing staff with regular catch ups, career planning etc. The last thing you need is another departure!
  • Think creatively. Consider lawyers from different practice areas with transferable skills. You will be surprised how quickly capable lawyers adjust and learn.
  • Recruit for the long term and you will have less turnover – start thinking about your teams strategic vision.
  • What is your offering, how do you differentiate yourself from competitors. Remember to play to your strengths at interview
  • Be patient.

Finally, if you are not dealing with Montgomery we are not precious, give us a call. As Australia’s largest legal recruitment firm we have access to the best talent in Australia, have collectively the most experience in the market and thus are best placed to advise you on all scenarios and solutions.

Sam Gray

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