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Legal market overview for Ireland

Posted by: Laurence Simons 12/03/15

Both in-house and private practice are looking positive for 2015.  The troubles of the last few years seem to be disappearing and we are certainly seeing increased activity in the legal industry. Our recent salary survey showed that 86% of lawyers feel secure in their jobs and 76% received a bonus. The good times seems to be on the way.

We saw a continued stream of in-house opportunities arising in 2014, with the financial services, technology and aviation sectors being the most active. Lawyers at the mid-senior level were the most sought after which was a contrast from 2013. There was an increase in international organisations setting up base in Ireland and as a result a number of standalone in-house legal roles arose.

Contract roles continued to become more available with organisations preferring to use them for maternity cover and specific one-off projects. Our research indicates that organisations still tend to have a preference for candidates with previous in-house experience, rather than lawyers coming directly from private practice.
One trend we’ve noticed over the last few months is the continuing number of lawyers moving from private practice over to in-house.  Our recent salary survey showed that 10% of lawyers will move from private practice to in-house. Many reasons can explain this; the greater variety of work; more interaction with non-lawyers and being part of an industry that you have an interest in.

However, we’ve noticed two specific reasons.  Firstly, the opportunities for career progression have not met the expectations of many private practice lawyers due to the recession. Secondly, many lawyers are becoming interested in broader, more generalist roles. Salaries have thus not varied a great deal as there is a wider talent pool for companies to choose from.

Private Practice
Law firms continued hiring during 2014 particularly in the funds, banking and asset finance sectors and most opportunities arose at the Associate level specifically at the 2-5 years PQE. Corporate lawyers and real estate lawyers are in particular demand as Ireland’s economy makes positive strides. 

We’ve noticed a lot of lawyers at the 2-4 year PQE level move abroad to gain international experience and greater exposure both in private practice and in-house. However, we are noticing that the lawyers who left Ireland during the recession are starting to return or think about returning. Salaries in private practice have remained, for the most part, consistent and this is something we expect to see in 2015.

However, in sectors such as banking, aviation finance and funds, law firms are paying more than the market rate in order to attract candidates. Whilst the purse strings haven’t been completely loosened there is room for bonuses and being given to those who have met targets or on merit.