How has the legal job market changed since Covid?
Claire Cox is the founder of Bailey Hunter Ltd, a former Solicitor and legal recruiter with over 20 years experience.
So a lot of things have changed in the world since the pandemic arrived in 2020. But I do feel the legal profession have embraced the changes the pandemic has brought and adapted accordingly.
One of the biggest changes I’m seeing is that many law firms are now offering hybrid and/or flexible working as standard for most fee earner roles. And many law firms have now implemented a full hybrid working policy.
The pandemic forcing lawyers to work from home (WFH) meant many people enjoyed not having the daily office commute and realised it was possible to work well at home as well as balancing a private life so now value work life balance more.
Don’t get me wrong WFH during the pandemic also came with its own challenges – especially for those with children who had to be home schooled for several months! I myself struggled with my two; a stroppy teenager who was not keen to get out of bed most days let alone do school lessons online and a keen 9 year old who enjoys schoolwork but not so happy about the daily walks/exercise I insisted on! I was extremely relieved when schools re-opened in March 2021.
So now the children and back at school it seems the most popular choice for many fee earners being 3 days in the office 2 days from home. More junior fee earners are mainly preferring to be in the office full time due to the support they need/want.
It’s not always preferred though, even for senior fee earners, some were so fed up of working from home on their own they would rather now be in the office most days with maybe the flexibility to work the odd day from home when needed.
I know that some law firms were already offering flexible working pre-2020 but it’s so much more common now.
Interviews are often offered on a remote basis now, usually Microsoft Teams or Zoom, as well as face to face interviews. This makes it a lot easier for candidates; no travel time so not needing to take as much time off work to attend interviews. Some are doing remote interview during their lunch break or after work. And especially convenient when the candidate is relocating to a new city so don’t need to travel at all.
However, I am finding that in some cases candidates aren’t fully engaged with the client without physically attending the office for interview. They’re missing the experience of visiting the office, meeting other staff and generally getting a feel for the culture of the firm. So I’d advise a face to face meeting at a later stage before they commence employment to ensure full commitment to joining the firm.
Issues with isolation are common now too, such as, delaying start dates for candidates due to testing positive for Covid and rescheduling interviews from face to face to remote interviews.
So all in all there have been some really positive changes for the legal profession to come out of the pandemic. The legal profession is now a very different place to how it looked 2 years ago.