The legal job market is in extremely good condition with 41% of firms looking to increase staff numbers and 59% of firms seeking to maintain them.
These figures come from recruitment firm, Legal Personnel, which conducted a survey of medium and small legal firms and represents “a very positive outlook going forward,” said Judith Eller, the company’s director.
Trends show there is a short supply of quality candidates across New Zealand for both professional and support roles in areas such as corporate, commercial and property law, she said.
Presumably to combat this, there has been an increase in the number of graduates recruited.
“Some firms are looking to increase their resource at the junior level with the hope of bringing graduates through to the 3-5 years’ PQE level, where there is a shortage,” Eller said.
In areas of high demand such as commercial, property and conveyancing, the preferred level of recruitment is three to seven years’ PQE with firms in no rush to find the right person.
“Firms are prepared to take their time, as are candidates, and are only hiring or accepting offers when there is a ‘fit’,” Eller said.
While there are some candidates out there, they are not responding to open job positions in the traditional manner, she added, especially since word-of-mouth and referrals are now a lot more prevalent.
This balance between supply and demand seems to be buoyed by the fact that legal professionals and support staff are being paid well enough to meet current market needs. The low turnover rates experienced countrywide reflect this, Eller said.
“On previous years the trend has strengthened with 72% of respondents experiencing low turnover (up from 66% in 2014) for professional staff. Office support staff continue to have low to no turnover at 61%.”
These conditions mean the 41% of firms seeking to increase staff numbers will have a real challenge to find suitable talent pools and source their new recruits, she added.