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France’s legal industry: Constant, steady and going in the right direction.

Posted by: Laurence Simons 10/03/15

Last year, France’s legal industry could be described as steady and cautious. This year will be a year of growth and optimism for both in-house and private practice. 

The ever changing corporate world with its mergers and restructures always generates a consistent demand for more experience lawyers and 2014 was no different. 

The need for in-house legal counsel had remained constant over the last 12 months despite the uncertain economic and political climate and lawyers who have 5-10 years’ PQE are the most sought after. There has been an increase in demand for newly qualified lawyers resulting in a competitive market.

Our recent salary survey showed that 61% of French lawyer are willing to relocate to international offices which bodes well for junior lawyers as international experience provides them with the right exposure they need to stand out from the crown. This flexibility will also benefit lawyers searching for General Counsel (GC) roles as there are an increasing number of GC roles in countries with a close proximity to France.

Candidates with a background in Private Practice are starting to become more in demand to in-house legal departments; something we noticed over the last 12 months. We anticipate this to continue for the foreseeable future.

Private Practice
While recruitment levels in France haven’t returned to pre-recession levels there was an increase in demand from all sectors:  corporate and finance dispute resolution, IP/IT, tax and employment, although recruitment levels are yet to return to those pre-recession.

We noticed global law firms take a cautious approach with their recruitment in 2014; there was a tendency to consolidate teams, maybe more than creating new jobs.

2015 will be a year the legal landscape evolves in France. The influx of new law firms and the rise of the boutiques will create a more competitive environment. We also see a number of partners from global law firms decide to start their own businesses. 

Compensations in Paris tend to take a tiered approach, with US firms paying the highest followed by UK firms then national firms. However, there are always exceptions and we do know of lawyers at French firms receiving US compensations.