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Planning Law Recruitment Update

Recruitment into the Legal Planning Sector continues to grow -Winter 2013 update

Recruitment and investment into the legal planning sector has continued to grow steadily throughout 2013 and most practices seem to be optimistic about work flows going into 2014. A notable trend this year is that the demand for planning solicitors with good development experience has significantly picked up and a number of well-known firms with strong reputations on this side are recruiting again in this area.

However this does not mean that the infrastructure side has been quiet and there has continued to be a steady demand for solicitors with DCO experience. Following the Chancellors Autumn statement this is likely to continue.

Demand for solicitors this year has generally been at the junior end (0-4 years) pqe. This follows a significant period of consolidation as firms were unable to retain their NQs and also with very little lateral hiring. Therefore a gap has developed at this level and with increasing workloads this has resulted in a need to hire. The result is improved prospects for 2013 and now 2014 qualifiers with a much greater a chance of juniors who have sat a planning seat being retained. Furthermore, improving quality of work, prospects and pay within the capital is now drawing candidates in from the regions and with demand for talent increasing, candidates are getting to the point where they have a choice of firms to work for. This also means that solicitors who are looking to relocate out of London have more choice, improved career prospects and the critical mass achieved by some regional firms make them a credible alternative.

At the senior level there have been a steady number of partner moves this year. Some have been strategic, while others have been down to an evolving and expanding international market with partners looking to take their client base to practices that are in a better position to service it. Attrition rates have also been lower this year apart from a few exceptions.

At Origin Legal we have more than doubled our placement of Planning Solicitors in 2013 when compared with 2012 and this is also reflected by what some of our clients say.
Clare Fielding, Partner with city firm Lawrence Graham * comments:

“We have seen a dramatic upturn in the last 12 months on central London development planning work, much more so than I was expecting to see when I joined LG from Herbert Smith in 2012. Confidence in our market certainly appears to be returning, principally on the back of overseas investment.”

While another planning partner at a city firm also says:

“What we have noticed this year is a substantial increase in instructions for commercial development opportunities. This is in addition to the continuing infrastructure instructions and the continuing increase in residential development instructions.”

Should you wish to discuss trends in the planning recruitment market, wish to review your hiring needs for 2014, or are interested in considering your career options then please contact Stuart Phillips on 01206 233500 for a confidential conversation.

*soon to be Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co

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