Although the title of a popular podcast, it also sums up what is happening in the Planning market right now. Below I consider what impact this might have on recruitment for lawyers in the next 12 months.
Planning Lawyers continued to be in demand in 2023 but certain sectors have been a little quieter, especially on the Town & Country Planning side as Real Estate transactions slowed. However, demand in the infrastructure sector remains steady as projects in transport and energy continue. The Government's recent announcement on HS2 and the Prime Minister’s plans to restrict solar farms has led to worries and nervousness about future investment. However, my personal view is that this is more about short-term vote-winning than a core strategy for the future.
If the bookies are to be believed, there will be a change of government towards the end of 2024 and following the Labour Party conference, I hope that there is a bright or should I say glittering future for those who work in the planning sector.
Labour is putting building and reform of the planning system at the heart of its plans to stimulate economic growth and it will be interesting to see how this is implemented. Although reforming a clunky system is likely to take time, this should be good news for planning lawyers as clients will want to know what this means as they look to invest in new projects.
While I will leave the technical side of this to the experts, the question for me is how will this affect the recruitment market? In the short term, I predict little change. Planning law remains under lawyered and the backfilling of vacant roles will continue to be a priority so there will be movement. Some areas such as the housebuilder sector are likely to remain nervous in the first part of 2024 as they wrestle with other global factors such as interest rates. However, I believe practices that represent clients who can take a long-term strategic view on land are likely to be busy next year and this is likely to mean those firms will invest in new talent.
Therefore, if you are a Trainee Solicitor considering qualifying into planning or an Associate looking for a move in 2024 then I am optimistic about options towards the second half of the year. If you are a Senior Associate looking for Partnership, now will be a good time to look at your business case and the locations you would like to base yourself. Despite a slightly gloomy 2023, I do feel that there is a brighter future ahead.