Navigating the 2023 legal job market: Challenges and opportunities

Shannon Aldis, Senior Recruitment Consultant at AJ Chambers

By Shannon Aldis, Senior Recruitment Consultant at Legal Futures AJ Chambers

Looking for your next legal role?
Finding the market a bit tight at the moment?
Don’t worry, you are not alone!

Whilst some practice areas are booming in terms of hiring, overall, it is quieter this year than last. In fact, recent research by Vacanysoft, in conjunction with search, shows that 2023 is shaping up to be the slowest year for top-tier UK law firm recruitment since 2020, with job openings down 35.5% year-on-year.

Unsurprisingly, given the current global M&A lull, corporate and M&A hiring has been the hardest hit with an estimated 58.2% decline in 2023. And, when M&A is slow the impact is felt across the city, affecting other practice areas as well.

So, with fewer vacancies out there, what can you do to prepare for the opportunities that lie ahead?

Be patient

It’s totally normal for vacancy levels to fluctuate, and whilst the drop this year may be steeper than in previous years, given the legal sectors’ remarkable resilience, vacancy levels are expected to increase again.

Speak with a recruiter

It might sound obvious, but no one knows the state of the legal recruitment market like recruiters do. They are a hub of market intelligence and provide valuable information when it comes to making informed career decisions.

Whether or not a recruiter can match you to your dream job right away, establishing a good relationship with a recruiter is highly beneficial in the long term.

It is also highly likely that recruiters will be able to open doors to firms that may not seem to be hiring if you were to look at their careers page, as they will have the ear and inside track of hiring managers.

Maintain and expand your network

Not only do personal recommendations carry significant weight with potential employers, but your network will be aware of active roles and future hiring needs that aren’t public knowledge, meaning you might be able to access a hidden job market and/or get ahead of the game.

Don’t underestimate the power of referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations.

Determine your priorities

When the market is quieter it is a good time to pause and reflect on your career and personal goals.

Think about what drives and motivates you, determine your priorities, and consider the best available pathways for you to obtain those goals.

Enhance your skillset

Continuous learning and upskilling is vitally important to staying competitive and relevant at the best of times, but particularly so when job vacancies are down.

Make sure you stay up-to-date with legal developments, familiarise yourself with the latest legal tech advancements, and explore complementary practice areas or industries where your skills overlap.

Update your CV and LinkedIn profile

First impressions count, so make sure that your CV and LinkedIn demonstrates professionalism and remains current.

You want to draw potential employers to your most recent accomplishments and highlight your relevant skills and experiences. A good CV and/or LinkedIn profile will really help you stand out against other applicants.

If you need guidance on writing or formatting your CV please check out this article here, or contact one of our team.


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