Fewer lawyers on active search for new jobs, survey suggests

Recruitment: 45% of lawyers are passive jobseekers

The proportion of lawyers actively seeking a new job fell for the third consecutive year to 10%, according to new research, although 45% described themselves as ‘passive’ jobseekers.

Securing a pay rise was the factor mentioned by most (56%) in prompting them to move roles over the last 12 months.

Realm Recruit, based in Cheshire, contacted 338 solicitors and legal professionals for the survey, mainly in the North-West, Yorkshire and the Midlands.

The proportion of lawyers actively seeking a new opportunity was 15% in 2022, with 40% passive jobseekers who would potentially be open to moving for the right opportunity.

Those who switched jobs this year achieved an average pay rise of 15%. This compares with 55% of those who stayed at their firms and saw pay rises of less than 5%, with a third of them receiving nothing at all.

Other reasons for moving aside from pay were being unhappy/disengaged at their old firms (34%), more flexibility (32%) and a lack of opportunity to progress their careers (24%).

On flexibility, researchers said law firms offered an average of 2.7 days working from home a week this year, compared to 3.9 in 2022.

“There was little correlation to suggest a link between turnover growth and the amount of home working offered – those who offered more days from home were just as likely to hit their growth targets than those who offered less.”

Asked to state the top three factors that made them attractive employers, most (86%) said it was their culture, 60% their approach to flexible working, and 43% employee wellbeing. Bonus schemes and financial incentives, and promotion and progression opportunities were also highligted. Only 5% of firms cited pay.

Sarah Glynn, associate director and head of client experience at Realm Recruit, commented: “With the tightest talent market in years and the added pressure of the cost-of-living crisis, it’s harder than ever for law firms to attract and recruit the people that are going to help drive profitability.

“However, it’s clear that money is at the forefront of lawyers’ minds and paying properly (or at least in line with the market rate) is crucial.”

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