The Sydney market witnessed strong recovery in 2010 given the economic difficulty encountered in 2009. The first quarter of 2011 has experienced a slightly more ‘cautious’ approach by clients in their hiring methods in that role requirements are very specific or firms will not hire. The NSW economy has experienced slower growth than perhaps anticipated and this has also impacted upon general business confidence with particular emphasis on hiring needs. As Sydney is the corporate/financial hub of Australia it will of course be more sensitive to the impact of international economic trends.
Consequently, most firms are more inclined to hire lawyers at the 2-5 years post admission experience, as opposed to senior associate level lawyers due to less influx of corporate/commercial based work – the emphasis being to adopt a conservative approach to operational costs. Partnership recruitment has remained fairly active, particularly, where senior partners have continued to generate strong revenue and demonstrate solid client relationship/business development skills. Lucrative and portable practices are always of interest to law firms when undertaking new partner searches.
Areas of High Demand
The need for insurance lawyers has continued to increase with particular focus upon professional indemnity lawyers. All insurance legal professionals currently engaged in quality insurance work contentious and non-contentious are being actively sought by firms with robust insurance practices. Corporate M&A, Employment, Insolvency, Dispute Resolution and IP/Technology lawyers are also in demand.
Salary increases have been conservative since 2010 with an expectation that 2011 will provide an average increase of 5-7% in annual salaries. Bonus components have continued to be factored into salary packages as added financial incentive for high performers.
Eva Arelic, senior consultant at Ranstad Legal