4 reasons why lawyers are moving to London in 2018

why lawyers are moving to London in 2018

Brexit, business confidence and banking – what do these have to do with lawyers moving to London?

They are just some of the drivers behind a steadily growing legal job market, showing that now more than ever is an exciting time to relocate to London, or move back to the UK.

Sam Walters, Director of Legal Recruitment at Robert Walters, is an Australian-qualified lawyer who's been living in London for the last eight years. We talk to him about why now is a great time for lawyers to be in the UK.

1. Legal jobs in the UK are up 12%

The latest Robert Walters UK Jobs Index has revealed that legal vacancies have risen across the UK, with the number of jobs available in the third quarter of 2017 up 12% compared to the same time last year, following growth of 13% in the second quarter.

"Despite uncertainty surrounding Brexit in the UK, hiring levels continued to recover compared to 2016,” said Walters. “While activity remained muted in some areas, transactional areas came alive again and we saw particular demand in mid-level requirements for real estate, project finance and structured finance lawyers."

"There has been some unwarranted caution in recent trade press around how Brexit will impact the legal jobs market in the UK," he continued. “If anything, we are seeing more and more projects created in reponse to the need to unwind and dual-standardise EU law."

"More and more in-house clients are establishing particular Brexit projects. It will be one of the great demergers of our time and an excellent time to be a lawyer.”

“Brexit will be one of the great demergers of our time and an excellent time to be a lawyer in the UK.” 

2. Regulatory experience in high demand

Regulatory pressure has been a major driver of hiring among banks and financial services-heavy law firms for some time, as employers are forced to take action on the back of MiFID II, EMIR and upcoming GDPR regulations.

“In the run-up to, and wake of, the EU referendum last year, many businesses froze or postponed hiring processes,” said Walters. “Now, as deadlines approach for various regulatory frameworks, employers are being forced to reactivate hiring processes in order to secure the professionals they need.“

“GDPR in particular is proving to be a key area where legal experts are needed."

"With a delivery deadline of May 2018, companies are coming to recognise the importance of implementing procedures to ensure compliance. These efforts are being hampered by an acute skills shortage in this area, forcing employers to broaden their hiring criteria and consider candidates with transferable skills."

“Data protections lawyers are unfortunately not growing on trees, therefore, general commercial lawyers with a good broad-ranging understanding of data protection are having to upskill very quickly.”

“Legal professionals with an understanding of overseas legislative frameworks, such as Dodd Frank, have previously seen even more acute demand for their skills, with employers facing fierce competition when looking to recruit from this small talent pool.”

3. Contract opportunities for lawyers

With the dual impact of transactional areas warming up and regulations coming in to force, we are seeing the contractor jobs market grow, and many Antipodean lawyers are slotting in to 6- to 12-month contract roles with a minimum of fuss.

The legal services model continues to change and with most leading law firms establishing flexible resourcing arms (Eversheds Agile, Allen & Overy Peerpoint, Simmons & Simmons Adaptive, Fieldfisher Condor, TLT Resource and Pinsent Masons Vario), contracting is becoming a way of life for a lot of UK-qualified lawyers.

4. UK still the best base for career and travel

Walters is confident that London is still the pick of the bunch for legal professionals who want to build an international legal career. 

“The UK still provides legal professionals with an unbelievable career platform. Leading international, US and UK firms continue to be involved in the most complex deals and matters across all areas of law,” he said.

“In-house opportunities also come in various shapes and forms – some of the world’s largest banks and FTSE-listed companies are headquartered in London and with the ever-growing world of fintech start-ups on the rise, sole legal counsel roles offer career-defining opportunities.“ 

And let’s not forget, London still the best base to establish yourself in for Northern Hemisphere travel, and despite the softening of the pound, there are still incredible deals to be found to give you access to the best travel and cultural experiences in the world.

Find out what you could earn in the UK

Or, contact Sam Walters to discuss career opportunituies for legals professionals in London:

Sam Walters
Legal Recruitment - London 
T: +44 (0)20 7509 8786
E: sam.walters@robertwalters.com

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