Legal recruiters have observed a significant upturn in the law firm jobs market in the past three months, and are anticipating a still more buoyant year ahead.The optimistic forecasts came as a fresh survey predicting a 7% rise in graduate vacancies in the legal sector this year.

Badenoch & ClarkColin Loth, manager of the legal teams at recruitment firm Badenoch & Clark, said he had witnessed a 50% raise in the number of new vacancies for lawyers compared to three months ago. He said that week after week they are seeing improvements. He also added that US and City firms were beginning to recruit again in their conventional areas of corporate, commercial, finance, dispute resolution and lawsuit. He noted that the number of property jobs was also mounting.

Loth put the timing of the improvement down to a general raise in confidence among law firms after a year of doubt and procrastination. But he said transformed activity could also be attributable to some firms cutting back a lot and then being stretched by their present workloads. Many firms don’t want to be seen to be hiring too soon after they’ve let people go. So those firms which made redundancies at the start of last year are beginning to gear up again after a year has passed.

Taylor Root
Overall, Loth said the prediction for 2010 is better than last year, but the continuous growth in the jobs market will rely on the economy.Mike Walker, group manager at recruitment firm Taylor Root, said he had seen a 40% improvement since September 2009, but the market is still to some extent tough.Walker said that there has at all times been partner recruitment where people had business to take with them, but associate roles in corporate,finance and litigation are presently coming back into the market and firms are starting to plan ahead.

In the meantime, the latest survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters predicted a 7.4% increase in legal sector jobs in 2010.