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Sydney “constructing” a comeback? 

Sydney “constructing” a comeback? 

February and March 2020 saw many firms posting record profits – then came the three-hit combo (fire, flood and (toilet-paper) famine) that drastically changed the legal landscape!

The CBD is slowly coming back to life and while we are not queueing for coffees (and diving for cover if someone sneezes!) there is noticeably more foot traffic and buzz in cafés and restaurants. With strong investment from State and Local Government the construction and major projects space is as busy, if not busier, than it was in March. This, coupled with an increased focus in the renewables sector from corporates in Australia, has seen an abundance of legal work. As a result, many firms across the top-tier, mid-tier and boutique spectrum are actively recruiting construction (front and back-end), projects and project finance lawyers from 2 years’ PAE right up to the special counsel level.

For obvious reasons we have already seen an uptick in activity across the insolvency and restructuring space leading to many firms now actively looking for both front and back-end insolvency lawyers at the associate and senior associate level.

Corporate/M&A and the banking & finance sectors have seen a more patchy recovery. As confidence levels increase, we are predicting a strong bounce back in the final quarter of this year and the first quarter of the next.

Demand for employment and insurance lawyers continue to be present. The strongest demand is coming from international, mid-tier and high-end boutique law firms, with many of the traditional top-tiers remaining dormant due to their leveraging, ability to redeploy internal resources and the need for an “n-th degree” of global approval for any hiring!

Flexibility a focus?

Obviously, the threat of COVID remains ever present, however, as the world slowly adjusts to the new ‘norm’ we will see an inevitable climb back up the ladder. Going forward, the benefits of a truly flexible workplace cannot be ignored and those firms that haven’t covered themselves in glory (in terms of creating a strong and flexible work culture), that revert back to a “traditional” mindset, will undoubtedly lose staff.

In terms of “constructing” that comeback, the Sydney legal market is nowhere near back to the activity levels we witnessed pre-COVID, however, we have certainly seen a greater bounce back in Sydney than the rest of Australia, so the future is looking bright.

Sam Gray

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