Coronavirus: Job searching following the pandemic

Google searches relating to changing jobs have more than doubled during lockdown and this is a trend we expect to continue in the legal sector.  With many lawyers working from home for the last four months and others lawyer’s being furloughed or facing potential redundancy, career paths have been on a lot of people’s minds over the past few months. 

There have been many reports of firms in the legal sector cutting back on hiring due to the pandemic and these measures are likely to be with us at least into 2021. However, it is important to remember that this is a temporary reaction to current unprecedented circumstances. We discussed how the legal sector had been impacted in our last post– Today we’re giving our advice on looking for a career change post covid-19.

What should I be doing now?

As the market starts to slowly recover, this is an idea time to be thinking about your long-term career goals and aspirations. One positive from the pandemic is that we have all spent an increased amount of time at home which has allowed everyone to have the opportunity to put their lives in perspective and consider their plans. From a practical perspective, this is a great opportunity be working on your CV (especially if has gathered dust over the last few months). This will set you in good stead and will allow you to respond quickly as the job market improves.

Is this a good time to change legal discipline?

While not impossible, we would advise that changing direction in term of legal discipline in this current market will prove to be very difficult. We are likely to see, at least in the short-term, a higher number of lawyers seeking employment than vacancies. In this type of market, employers are more likely to be very specific in terms of their requirements and this included: discipline, experience, level and location.

Can I move in-house?

In-house legal teams have been impacted in the same manner as law firms. We are likely to see fewer in-house role for the remainder of 2020.  Again, it is more about your specific experience you can demonstrate.  If it’s ‘on point’ for a role, be that in-house or in private practice, you are likely to be of interest- its going to remain a very difficult and competitive market to break into a new area.  Unfortunately, the current market is not one where solely interest in a sector or company, without the desired experience to back it up, will be sufficient in most cases.

Is it possible to relocate?

Making a move to London or Overseas is often on a lawyer’s agenda at some point in their career and is a move that takes a considerable amount of planning and organisation. As we recover from the pandemic, there are two main challenges that you will face if you are looking to relocate. Firstly, on a practical perspective there are certain countries that will not allow entry currently. While this is starting to ease, it is likely to have an impact on employment visas depending on where you are coming from and your location of choice.  Secondly, it’s a question of demand.  As we speak most law firms and in-house legal team around the world will be facing the same economic challenges. This is going to result in fewer vacancies and a higher level of competition domestically which inevitably makes hiring from outside of the local market more challenging.

2020 Newly Qualified Lawyers

There is no question that the pandemic is going to have a significant impact on lawyers qualifying in 2020.  With unpredicable pipelines of work and cost-saving measures being introduced in many law firms, this is going to result in fewer NQ vacancies. Additionally, there will be a very high level of competition for these coveted positions in 2020.

Newly qualified lawyers will have the best opportunity of securing a role by demonstrating flexibility on location, discipline and potentially considering fixed-term roles. We saw many firms during the economic downturn in 2008/2009 offering junior positions on a fixed-term basis to deal with short-term demand in certain areas.

What next?

As we move out of lockdown, into latter stages of the pandemic, some areas of the legal sector will start to see an increase in demand and may be hiring more quickly.  Others may take a longer time to recover. The status of the job market will depend which field you want to work in and your area of expertise. However, it is important to keep an eye on the market as things can change very quickly.

At Thomson Legal we appreciate that this is a difficult time for many lawyers. We are on hand to help and provide advice. If you are impacted by the pandemic or looking for a career change post covid-19, please get in touch for a confidential discussion.

Thomson Legal

With 20 years’ experience placing lawyers with leading law firms and in-house legal teams in Scotland & Ireland, Thomson Legal is here to assist you in taking the next step in your legal career.