Law firm vacancies take a tumble, say graduate recruiters

Graduate vacancies at law firms have fallen by 5 per cent, compared to last year.

Expected vacancies for the 2012/13 year, contrasted with those in 2011/12, fell by 5.4 per cent, making law one of the worst-performing sectors. The accoutancy and banking and financial services businesses also suffered, with vacancies shrinking by 17 per cent and 45 per cent respectively. The figures have been revealed by the Association of Graduate Recruiters in its Graduate Recruitment Survey for summer 2013.

Industries to perform better included consulting, in which the number of vacancies increased by 36 per cent, and the energy industry, in which vacancies rose by 31 per cent. Of the 11 industries surveyed, four saw the number of vacancies decrease.

Positions in law firms make up 6.8 per cent of the total expected vacancies (18,913) over the 2012/13 period.

Graduate vacancies are still concentrated in London, with the capital accounting for 38 per cent of jobs. However, this figure has shrunk from last year, when it comprised 42 per cent of vacancies.

Law firm salaries did not change over the 2011/12 to 2012/13 period, with the median starting salary standing at £37,000, second only to investment banking and fund management. In that industry the median salary is £38,250.

Banking and financial services graduates were the next highest paid after law, at £29,750, while accountants’ median salary was £24,500.

The ratio of the number of graduates applying to each role has grown dramatically over the last five years. Pre-recession, an average of 31 graduates applied for every job. This year sees the biggest ratio yet as an average of 85 graduates apply to every position.

Employers who responded to the AGR survey were asked to rate, out of six, their satisfaction with the numbers of graduates retained by their company or firm. The average rating from respondents at law firms was 4.6, signalling a moderately positive response, while the average across all industrues was 4.5.

At least 36 national, international and City law firms were surveyed.