With market volatility and breaking news emerging every hour, decision makers at law firms and companies are acting with great caution in order to make the right decisions.
Law firms based in the City have taken measures such as asking employees to enjoy 50% of their vacations before June, deferring the payment of benefits to Partners or other more forceful measures, such as making adjustments to their workforce.
For all these reasons, in recent weeks we have seen a 40% drop in the lateral movements of lawyers. Many lawyers that are actively looking at options for the future are asking themselves, What now?
Having personally recruited after the financial crash 2007 – 2009 it is clear that every crisis brings with opportunities and significant threats. Proof of this is that despite the fact that companies have seen a significant reduction in the demand for lawyers from some transactional areas such as Mergers and Acquisitions, Real Estate, etc., in other areas that provide more continuous advice such as Restructuring, Employment, Litigation and Mid Cap Private Equity opportunities have spiked.
Furthermore, contrary to what it may seem, the most local and / or small law firms are not the ones that are taking the most drastic measures, but rather the largest and international firms, since it is the latter that are most dependent on premium transactions.
Those that are more exposed to the staggered and global effects of the Covid-19 have seen challenges in determining medium-long term predictions since each market follows different schedules and consequences. In this way, while more local firms can have a more accurate vision in the short term of how a specific market will evolve and focus on these non - transactional areas and "benefit from the crisis". Large international firms are taking a more conservative position waiting for what may happen in the different countries where they have a presence.
However, even with all this, it is being seen in the market as firms with greater financial muscle or that are not suffering as much from this crisis, are willing to “buy talent” and take advantage of the market situation. Exploring options at firms that are in this position should be the focus for any Lawyer exploring the market, since these are the firms that will offer long term stability and future potential for growth.
Proof of this is the interest that several Partners have transferred to us. US firms in growth mode in London are most notable and the focus is on targeting Partners that can drag a relatively small portfolio of clients and even take advantage to create a completely new capability. Client needs are changing rapidly for firms and this certainly has a knock-on effect regarding the stability of ongoing mandates to recruiters.
With this complex landscape, it is more important and useful than ever to work with a recruiter who is well connected in the industry and trusted. When supply begins to outstrip demand, law firms and companies turn to their trusted recruiters, so we advise candidates to do the same.
By Senior Legal Consultant James Wootton (US & City)