It’s business as usual in the planning community in 2018, with numerous opportunities for planning lawyers, buoyant recruitment levels and practices reporting steady streams of work. If you’re planning for success in this busy field read on or click here for our planning update document, which looks at some of the latest trends and insights into the legal planning sector.
Most of the major practices are reporting healthy pipelines of work and recruitment has remained steady throughout the UK. Flexible and part-time working continues to be embraced across the profession as a whole. In terms of trends, there is a noticeable migration of work from the capital to the major regional centres such as Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and Reading. Therefore, while there are still opportunities within London, now is a very good time for city-based planning lawyers to consider relocation.
The development planning sector is thriving, with growth fuelled by ever-changing reforms, the busy housebuilder sector and the continued investment in strategic sites. We predict this will continue to grow into 2019, having noted healthy recruitment levels in this area, with departing lawyers being replaced and firms targeting strategic growth. Using NQs as barometer of the market, interestingly, 100% of NQ planning lawyers we worked with in 2017 found a position. There is healthy uptake of overseas and public-sector planning lawyers as well.
Although the infrastructure planning sector is not as fast moving, there continues to be plenty of work out there with firms such as Pinsent Masons, Womble Bond Dickinson, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Bircham Dyson Bell and Winckworth Sherwood busy. With several major transport projects underway and the continued growth of the energy sector, we are confident that this field will remain steady.
Prospects for Partners
As ever, while the lateral partner market remains good, making the leap from Senior Associate to Partner remains challenging, especially when many teams remain top heavy. In addition to targeting the traditional firms, potential partners should also seek opportunities at practices that do not currently have a planning capability where they can develop their own practice.
One of the most common questions we are asked is: what is the in-house market like? 2017/18 was a good year for planning lawyers looking to move in-house with organisations such as TFL, Heathrow Expansion, EDF and HS2 hiring. Often moves to organisations such as this, or to other utilities firms, require candidates to have decent DCO experience. We do, however, occasionally see interest from major developers and when these roles go live it is a question of seizing the opportunity in a competitive market.
If you would like to discuss any of this information in more detail, please do contact the Origin Legal team on 01206 322500 or email us at [email protected]