No law firm has yet aborted its trainee recruitment programme in anticipation of a recession and the majority of redundancies since 11 September have, inevitably, been in the US itself.
As yet there are certainly no indications that any of the leading UK firms are looking to postpone training contracts or restrict opportunities for their junior associates.
What’s more, the news that several US firms have made a complete U-turn on bonus payments illustrates the continuing importance to firms of retaining their junior associates.
Most firms are ever mindful of what happened in the last recession, when many firms did postpone training contracts and restrict their recruitment programmes for trainees and junior associates. The result was that two years down the line when the market picked up again, firms were left woefully under-resourced. Inevitably recruitment and retention have remained priority issues ever since.
Further evidence comes in the form of recent analysis by the Trades Union Congress into which sectors are being hardest hit by redundancies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, worst affected is the manufacturing sector, that has suffered around 23,200 redundancies per month. While the service sector has also been seriously affected, banking, finance and insurance have been the worst hit, with around 11,800 redundancies each month. The legal profession did not even make it onto the TUC’s radar.
For those hopeful of heading off to the bar, the news is equally positive. The proportions may be smaller but the principle remains the same. If anything, chambers were less susceptible than law firms to the temptations of reducing their cost base by cutting pupillages during the last recession. While there is a general downsizing trend at the bar, this is unrelated to the current economic climate and the continuing wrangles over pupillage application deadlines prove just how competitively sets continue to fight for the best talent.
So, having hopefully restored your confidence in the future of the legal profession you are free to sit back and enjoy the second issue of Lawyer 2B.