Uncertainty reigns post Brexit but short-term vacancy data suggest its impact has yet to significantly affect overall recruitment figures in the UK legal sector. London and the Property sector show most cause for concern.
Over the four week period up to the beginning of July, pre-referendum nerves and post-referendum shock had only a negligible impact, with advertised UK vacancies running at 403 compared to 412 over a comparable period in 2015. Corporate vacancies, an area typically susceptible to uncertainty, had actually risen slightly (to 28 from 27) over the same period. Analysis of London data shows more cause for concern with a drop of 25% in advertised roles (130 to 97) whilst the property sector, the traditional canary in the mineshaft of the British economy held up reasonably well with vacancies dropping from 121 in 2015 to 111 this year.
What if we isolate the post-Brexit vote period? Clearly the timeframe is too short to draw any major conclusions but figures over the nine working days from 23rd June show total UK vacancies falling from 209 in 2015 to 180 in 2016 with London (49 down from 69 in 2015) and Property (37 down from 60 in 2015) once again faring worse. Corporate roles actually rose slightly but numbers are sufficiently low as to offer few conclusions.
Perhaps what we can draw from this is that the uncertainty has inevitably had some impact on confidence and that has fed through to a notable drop off in vacancies in some sectors. What it isn’t - and our anecdotal evidence supports this - is the employment Armageddon that we saw post-Lehman where recruitment ground rapidly to a halt. Law firms are still hiring; lawyers are still making career moves; life (not quite as we knew it) goes on…let’s all hope it remains this way! (By Jason Horobin)
*Vacancy data courtesy of Vacancysoft