Fledgling and experienced legal staff are in big demand, as competition for them ramps up both here and abroad, writes Emily Styles.

Ireland’s legal recruitment sector has seen significant change and growth over the past decade, thanks in large part to the effects of the recession. According to Jonathan Brady, co-founder of Aperture Partners, a Dublin-based legal and finance recruitment firm, clients looked beyond the traditional top legal firms post-recession, amid increased pressure to reduce costs.

“As a result, we have seen phenomenal growth of commercial law firms who, in terms of numbers, would have previously been outside of this top tier,” Brady adds. The increased competitiveness in the Irish legal market has in turn increased competition for talent recruitment, while qualified legal personnel have become even more likely to look for work abroad.

Founded in 2015, Aperture opened Dublin and London legal and regulatory recruitment practices simultaneously. Barry Crushell, associate director with Aperture, says that the increasing internationalisation of laws and regulations has resulted in a greater synergy between lawyers practising within different jurisdictions, and more recruitment of lawyers between these different jurisdictions. Talent drain is therefore a challenge that is constantly on the horizon for Irish legal recruiters.

Says Crushell: “London, in particular, remains an extremely attractive proposition to many candidates, especially newly qualified or junior solicitors.” Crushell adds that recent trends suggest that one in five newly qualified solicitors from large commercial practices will relocate abroad within the first two years. “Having said that, most candidates do not stay abroad indefinitely, and typically return after three to four years.”

Another challenge cited by smaller legal firms is the competition for talent with the big multinational companies, who are building their own in-house legal teams by snapping up the best candidates available in Ireland. According to Rory McCormick, Aperture’s other co-founder: “Given the increased competitiveness within the legal recruitment market, the larger law firms have begun to look beyond their usual recruiting grounds. Newly qualified and experienced solicitors from mid-ranking firms, and occasionally smaller niche practices, are finding more opportunities available to them within the larger commercial tier.” Remuneration McCormick also notes that there can often be a significant gap in terms of the remuneration package between the larger commercial firms and all others. “Many mid-sized and smaller practices are not in a position to financially compete with their larger competitors,” he says.

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