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Is London still the city for Law firms?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 15/08/14

London can be a very exciting place to work for many people. Perhaps it is the lifestyle, the feeling of being at the centre of events or the prospect of working for a major company close to the heart of operations, a factor that can help oil the wheels of promotion.

All of these factors may be reasons for people in the legal sector to want to work in London, quite apart from the fact that they might already live there.  

Is London still so popular?

There are those who would question if London is still as much a prime area for the legal sector as one might imagine. In a recent article by the Lawyer, it was noted that its analysis of City firms pointed to many sourcing their work outside London. However, the title "Out of London is the new London" might be somewhat misleading, as this meant more work going to other UK locations, not overseas.

However, the article simply emphasised that the other UK cities were getting a bigger slice of the pie. Manchester might be doing well, but it remains second to London, while some regions - like Yorkshire - are well behind. So while not all work being created by London firms is ending up with lawyers or firms based exclusively in the capital, plenty of it still is. 

The international element

It also needs to be noted that London remains the first port of call for overseas firms investing in the UK, at least in the service sector. For all the talk of rebalancing and regional investment - a process that may assert itself more strongly as debates on issues like the future of Scotland draw attention to the issue of a 'London-centric' UK - the fact is that many overseas firms will inevitably look first to the capital as the base.

An example of this is Cooleys, a Californian legal firm that specialises in the tech sector. It is setting up a London office from October 2014 and it will seek to create around 50 new lawyer posts in its first few months. The location is far from being just a preference for London; the 'Silicon Roundabout' around Old Street is now a leading centre for high-tech industries, at the heart of a cluster of firms whose number and density is as yet unrivalled in the UK.

With many other industries - financial, services and so on across a range of sectors - remaining more prominent in London than elsewhere, it is likely that more legal firms will find good reasons to create more legal jobs in London. 

Economic growth leads to more recruitment

Undoubtedly, London has seen strong economic growth as the capital has thrived amid a widespread economic recovery. According to the analysis of legal firm Edward Gibson, that led to a significant rise in hiring last year. While 2013 began with much doom and gloom, once it was apparent that the economy was not going into recession but starting to show real growth, the level of appointments surged. By the end of the year, recruitment of lawyers in London was back at pre-recession levels. Finding legal vacancies in London will be easier now than for some years.

Finding legal vacancies in London will be easier now