Demand for NQs highest in almost a decade, say recruiters

The NQ job market has been at its busiest since before the recession, according to recruiters specialising in placing newly-qualified and junior lawyers.

“There are opportunities in pretty much every area with the exception of employment,” said DMJ Recruitment director Marc Tobias. “Commercial is busy, IP is busy and corporate is getting busier. Property is very strong, as is banking.”

However, demand for employment lawyers is ”really quiet, throughout all PQE,” agreed Taylor Root associate director Charlotte Pember. “We are finding that all transactional areas are busy, especially banking.

“Firms are even looking for September 2015 qualifiers for banking, which is considerably different to how it’s been previously. There is a shortage of banking lawyers because of the pick-up in work – though the firms who are looking are looking speculatively: they are not desperate to hire people for the sake of it.”

Recruiters also agreed that the litigation market was very quiet, due to the perennial popularity of litigation departments with trainees reaching qualification; however, Pember said that patent lawyers with science backgrounds are continuing to be snapped up by firms due to their rarity.

“Over the last 18 months, since August 2013, the [strong] NQ market has come out of nowhere,” commented Tobias. “No one was expecting it to be busy. Then the March 2014 qualification period was good, as was the September 2014 round. It felt like 2005/06, when there was real demand.”

For those looking to trade in regional training for the City, Tobias offered good news. “There are opportunities for lawyers who did not get a City training contract, but who have managed to get themselves a training contract at a top regional firm, to move into the City,” he said. “The demand is there, as is a recognition that they are not getting the people they want from the London market.”

The news comes of the back of a strong year for trainee retention. At 44 firms that reported results in autumn 2014, 83 per cent of qualifying trainees stayed on with the firm that trained them.