In the past year, there has been significant hiring activity across all firm tiers. The top-tier continues to seek candidates in the banking & finance and corporate space, particularly in public M&A. This demand for high-end corporate/M&A lawyers has been consistent for multiple years. Meanwhile, the mid-tier and smaller firms have had recruitment activity across a wide range of areas. Notably, intellectual property has been an area of active recruitment over the last year, both on the advisory and litigious fronts. Lawyers with expertise in the areas of property and construction are also particularly sought after. This is unsurprising given the growth in infrastructure projects across the state plus the booming property market.
Reflective of previous years, this continues to be a candidate short market. The current challenge for law firms is their ability to attract and retain quality talent. Younger lawyers are increasingly willing to change firms, move in-house or even leave the law to find their ideal role. Where such activity is focused at the 4-5 year PQE mark, top and mid-tier trained lawyers at this level are in high demand. With many of the remaining lawyers interviewing at multiple firms at the same time, the ability of firms to move quickly on quality candidates has become key.
In 2017/2018, we expect that lawyers will enjoy a salary increase. Research by the Australian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) indicated that almost half of the respondent firms intend to offer pay rises above the Consumer Price Index (CPI). For many lawyers, these increases may also take the form of significant bonus payments on top of their base salary.
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