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London Update

London Update

London Update, April 2024

2023 was one of the slowest recruitment years in London that I can recall, however, we saw signs of life towards the back end of 2023 and that has certainly continued into 2024.

For those thinking about a move to London, I thought it would be useful for you to understand the current state of play of the popular practice areas, provide an insight into salaries and describe some of the hot roles for Australian lawyers in the market right now.

Corporate M&A remains relatively quiet. While there is plenty of work on offer, firms’ stocks are still bolstered from the high volume of hiring they did in 2022 combined with little turnover in the last 18 months. We are predicting a pick-up in the market from June onwards for Australian lawyers with 3-6 years post admission experience. Private equity is the main hot area, particularly among the major US firms and Silver Circle firms, and lawyers with genuine private equity experience are securing interviews across all firms.

Commercial Litigation has bounced back to life this year predominantly within the mid-market space and while roles are quite competitive, we are seeing Australians secure roles, with even a few sneaking into Magic Circle firms. We are predicting this trend to continue and suspect it will become a truly hot area at the back end of 2024 into 2025. Financial regulations, white-collar crime and civil fraud are also picking up.

Competition & Anti-trust is arguably the busiest space in London right now. There are both front and back-end roles across most major firms in the market for Australian qualified lawyers with 2-8 years’ post qualified experience.

Banking & Finance is another space that went off the boil completely in 2023 and is now showing signs of life again. Roles are popping up here and there for Australian qualified lawyers with 3+ years of experience from mid-market firms right through to Magic Circle and White Shoe firms. Project/energy, leveraged, acquisition, fund and corporate finance lawyers seem to be in the most demand. Real estate finance will pick up as the year progresses.

Investment Funds is always a busy space, and for lawyers with 3+ years of Australian PQE you will gain interest across all major firms, as well as the Cayman Islands.

Projects/Construction/Energy always have roles floating around across major and mid-market UK firms. The sweet spot tends to be those with 4-8 years of Australian qualified experience coming from major firms across Australia.

Technology/Privacy/cyber security/IP was a surprisingly quiet space in 2023. 2024 has also been a little sleepy, however, we are seeing several mid-market firms raise their hands for privacy and cyber security lawyers in recent times from 3+ years Australian qualified. We are predicting more technology roles to come on the market at the back end of 2024.

Employment/Insolvency/Real Estate/Insurance/Tax I would describe these practice groups as all relatively steady. There is often a preference for UK-qualified lawyers in employment, tax and real estate, however, there are firms open to Australians. For insolvency and insurance lawyers, particularly corporate insurance lawyers there are always excellent roles available.

In summary, I would describe the current market as relatively buoyant with pockets of roles across most practice areas and at a range of firms at any given point. The exceptions are private equity, investment funds and competition that are particularly busy.

Australian lawyers are still getting jobs and while there are more rejections than interviews, interviews are still being had and people are landing roles more often than you would think.


As in Australia, there has been a decent amount of upward movement in salary bandings over the past 3 years.

We have provided an overview below of salary ranges for Newly Qualified Lawyers (i.e. 1-2 years Australian qualified) in London across the different levels of firms. As a rule of thumb, for each additional year of PQE, you can add between £5 000 – £10 000.

  • White Shoe/Elite US Firms – £165 000 – £180 000
  • Mid-Market/Global US Firm – £135 000 – £160 000
  • Magic Circle Firm – £125 000
  • Silver Circle Firm – £110 000 – £120 000
  • Mid-Market UK Firms – £85 000 – £110 000
  • Boutique/Up and Coming/Regional Firms – £65 000 +

Hot Jobs (all PQE below is for Australian Lawyers)

  • Elite US Firm – Competition & Anti-trust Litigation Associate 2-6 Years PQE
  • White Shoe Firm – Private Equity Associate – 4 + Years PQE
  • Silver Circle Firm – Corporate M&A/Funds Associate – 4 + Years PQE
  • US Firm – Banking & Finance Associate – 4 + Years PQE
  • Magic Circle – Commercial Litigation Associate – 4 + Years PQE
  • Off-Shore Magic Circle – Corporate M&A & Funds Associate – 3 + Years PQE – Cayman & London
  • Silver Circle – Banking & Finance Associate – 3 + Years PQE
  • US Firm – Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Associate – 3 + Years PQE
Sam Gray

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