The Legal Team in New Zealand has collated commentary to provide an overview of the legal jobs market throughout the course of 2023. This information is a good read for those who work in the legal sector, are thinking about a change, employers, and those thinking of stepping back into, or out of, the legal sector.
Overview of the Legal Jobs Market
Update on New Zealand:
The legal landscape in New Zealand is undergoing fluctuations. There is significant need for banking and finance, construction, and litigation Lawyers. However, there is a diminishing demand for property, commercial, and general practice Lawyers. The beginning of 2023 witnessed a robust start, with gaps in the market prompting many Lawyers to move. These moves were driven by factors like flexibility, remuneration, and access to more substantial cases. The market has cooled in the last 3 months, influenced in part by a downturn in the property market and a decline in transactions during the election period. This has made firms more cautious to hire, and we are seeing a holding pattern with recruiting. However, 2024 is looking bright; many firms are already planning and reviewing their needs for the new year. The market is showing signs of picking up again.
Leading law firms have reoriented their focus this year, placing emphasis on work-life balance, mental health, and wellbeing. Notably, many firms now offer robust maternity or ‘second carer’ packages, aiming to align personal life and career, supporting those seeking a balanced commitment. Additionally, the prevalent trend involves enticing new employees with sign-on bonuses, relocation packages, and discretionary bonuses.
A significant number of Lawyers express a willingness to relocate within New Zealand, citing reasons such as the cost of living, property purchasing power, and work-life balance. It is however noted that there’s a trade-off in salary expectations in regional locations.
Update on Inhouse – New Zealand:
Tyler Wren’s focus on these roles has increased due to our clients’ needs. Saying that, across this market there has been a drop in demand from the largest businesses in New Zealand. If anything teams have streamlined rather than grown. We have seen the need for hybrid regulatory and legal roles remain steady. There has been a flow of job opportunities in medium-sized businesses with teams of between 3 and 5.
Businesses are looking for flexible, multiskilled Lawyers who will work across many parts of the business-support function. Normally roles encompass risk, regulation, governance, sustainability reporting, policy, and general legal support. PQE in demand is between 3 and 9 years. Salary ranges are very broad across this sector; as an example a 3-year PQE salary band has been anywhere from $80k – $110k.
Update on Australia:
A very similar story to NZ, with a great start to the year across all areas of practice. From September 2023 the front-end and advisory space slowed down, especially in Melbourne. Perth and Brisbane still have some needs in these areas but it is lighter. There has been a demand for Lawyers with 3 – 7 years of experience and fairly fresh Senior Associates in insolvency, liquidation and commercial litigation, class actions, and restructuring.
Lawyers with skills in family, privacy, IT, IP, trademark, cyber, and TMT law are still in demand, as well as insurance experts. Smaller law firms in regional locations are also interested in Lawyers with a couple of these specialist areas, but require a minimum of 4 years of experience ideally. Career Secretaries, Legal Assistants and Paralegals are in demand across all areas – Australia has a real shortage of these.
Update on Perth – HOT SPOT:
Perth has seen a consistent need for staff, specifically within the commercial litigation, construction litigation, dispute resolution, and insurance litigation spaces. The demand for legal professionals remains strong, in contrast with the cooler markets across the rest of Australia. We’ve had numerous instances of clients enquiring as to whether applicants would consider Perth locations instead of Melbourne and Sydney.
Update on Caymans, BVI, Bermuda:
This is a fairly new adventure for Tyler Wren so we are presenting our initial findings. The market is extremely soft with very few Lawyers being hired with under 4 years of experience. The pattern mirrors Australia and NZ, whereby the first half of the year focused on front-end and now there is a focus on the back-end. Most annual recruitment budgets have been exhausted, but the pattern of back-end recruitment will stay in place until at least the end of the first quarter of 2024.
Update on The Middle East:
Once again, this is a new jurisdiction where firms have reached out to our team to recruit talent on their behalf. A steadier market, packages remain highly attractive with sponsorship, relocation, and generous salaries (normally double the equivalent of NZ). Firms still have the appetite to hire in most areas, however firms are only interested in those Lawyers with complex and large matters experience, and will need a minimum of 3 years PQE (but ideally 5). The Litigation and Arbitration markets are currently extremely buoyant.
Get in Touch
If you are interested in finding out more about the legal jobs market landscape, then please contact the Legal Team at Tyler Wren.