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3 key market trends for legal candidates

Many factors have already impacted the Legal market. Across Ireland, all lockdown restrictions were lifted, and we’re beginning to see firms gradually working towards a hybrid model. But what other trends are we expecting to see this year, and how will these affect you? 

The Irish employment market is looking very healthy for Legal candidates, with employees being competitive to obtain and therefore extremely valued. We highlight the 3 key trends that are currently shaping the legal job market:

Increase in international talent

Law practices have historically been reluctant to take on international talent, due to a lack of experience of the Irish legal system. Due to a large shortage of candidates, we are seeing firms pivot across to an international candidate base, with opportunities offered to convert qualifications to the required Irish law qualification, including QLTT exams which are funded by the employer. Candidates from Australian, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa are especially in demand, with Ireland-based firms now having a high-level of work that they wouldn’t be able to service if they didn’t have this additional talent. 

Buoyant in-house market

We’re seeing a combination of Irish-based US companies, and Irish companies too, that are taking candidates from practice and in turn making that market candidate short. After a difficult time during the pandemic, the in-house market has very much recovered, with a steady volume of roles available to qualified lawyers with 2-10 years PQE. These roles are in all sectors and, as you would expect within the Dublin market, many are based in US companies which are using Ireland as their European headquarters. 

A move in-house is attractive for many lawyers; however, some believe that by moving in-house they will have a reduction in hours when compared to a role within a firm. Whilst your hours do become more predictable, these roles are still very demanding and you are working on a multi-jurisdictional basis, so still involves a big commitment. 

Salaries to increase significantly

The candidate short market that we’re currently in inevitably leads to inflationary pressures on salaries. The pandemic disrupted the increase of steady pay-rises in many organisations – as we exit this period, firms need to attract and retain their talent, and as a result are keen to make their people aware that they will be receiving a pay-rise this year. In some cases, these rises are substantial.

Firms are also using all other areas of their employee packages to retain and attract candidates, including improved benefits and increased bonuses. Hybrid working for example was something which many law firms were initially reluctant to offer, but with such positive feedback, is now a way of working which many will embrace going forward. Whilst different firms have different models, none are looking to completely return to office full-time.  

Looking for the next move in your legal career and want to know what you should be expecting? Discover your earning potential across Ireland with the Robert Walters Salary Guide.

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