During 2023, firms generally adopted a conservative and targeted approach to hiring, which was in contrast to the high-growth hiring strategy often implemented in the previous two years. High value was placed on retaining and attracting lawyers at 4PQE and above, in particular, Senior Associates were in high demand.
Due to economic uncertainty there was a reduction in substantial salary increases. Annual and Sign-On bonuses were also not as abundant compared to 2021 and 2022, as firms tightened budgets to consolidate, rather than trying to continually out bid their competitors to acquire legal talent. As we moved into Financial Year 23/24, market sentiment improved and we began to see an increase in hiring from firms at all PQE levels. The final quarter of 2023 saw a modest return of global recruitment in major markets such as the UK and US and there have been a number of lawyers departing internationally, which has created job vacancies at leading Australian firms.
The expectation for 2024 is that this trend will continue and there will be greater numbers of lawyers making the move abroad, compared to 2023. Partners at law firms report that they have a cautious yet positive outlook for 2024 and we anticipate law firm demand to continue increasing, which should provide an attractive platform for job seekers, with more vacancies and increasing salaries. It remains to be seen if we will see the widespread return of Sign-On bonuses for those moving laterally.
Please get in touch with any of our team for career advice or to discuss the market, salaries and vacancies - we are happy to assist.