Where can you see yourself next?

London Calling?

London Calling?

State of play

It has been a funny old time for the UK legal market in 2020.

With many firms taking an ultra-cautious approach to lateral recruitment in Q1 due to Brexit uncertainty, the advent of COVID (and the truncated lockdown that has followed) has unfortunately resulted in the usual recruitment merry-go-round grinding to a halt.

Slowdown in effect

Understandably, firms are reticent to hire lawyers en masse, and are instead adopting a need-driven style of recruitment; roles are only coming on to the market due to urgent replacement requirements where lawyers have been lost from a team’s existing talent pool.

International arrivals have similarly been curtailed, due in no small part to the Home Office’s moratorium on visa processing over the last few months.

Looking forward (and the lure of home)

While (on the face of it, at least), this may seem like a recruitment agent’s worst nightmare, we have in fact been enjoying many useful and interesting conversations with lawyers of every stripe. Solicitors, while still busy as ever in many practice groups, are taking advantage of the rise in home-working and the time for self-reflection it allows.

As an agency who focuses on long-term relationships with our candidates, it is pleasing to be able to switch our focus to providing tailored career planning advice while the market catches its breath.

The slowdown in UK inbound recruitment has been balanced by a surge in London-based Aussies and Kiwis accelerating their long-term plans to return home. With Australia & NZ ahead of the UK (broadly speaking) in their recovery from COVID, there hasn’t been a better time in recent years to plot a move back to the Southern Hemisphere.


There has been a fair bit of negative buzz in the industry regarding law firm hiring freezes, but the upside cannot be ignored – the majority of firms have managed to avoid wholesale redundancies in the short term. We are hopeful that the long-awaited market rebound, in addition to the usual mad-dash of deal flow through to Christmas should see a busy end to the year, with stable teams allowing lawyers to actually enjoy the return to normality (whether in the office, or from the kitchen table).

Either way, Montgomery remains very much open for business, and welcome conversations with candidates and clients alike as we work back towards the new ‘normal’.

Glenn Johnston

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