Despite a legal skills shortage and Brexit concerns shrouding the industry in a cloud of uncertainty, a recent report, by Clayton Legal, has found that the legal sector overall is increasing its demand for law professionals and cities outside of London have grown their presence in the legal sector.
The main headline suggests that law firms have a more optimistic outlook on the ability to recruit skilled professionals. Only 38% of respondents believe that legal skills were decreasing; this figure has shrunk from the overwhelming 51% in 2016.
Major UK cities outside of London have also seen a growth in the legal sector as more firms are opening offices and existing firms are expanding their businesses as cities like Birmingham have enjoyed a 67% increase in the demand for legal services.
As firms are struggling to keep up with demand, law firms are looking for innovative ways to increase their talent pool.
The Law Returners Programme, funded by the Government Equalities Office Returners Fund, is launching this week with the sole intention of supporting people back into the legal sector following an extended career break.
Women Returners is working with the Government, the Law Society and leading employers in Manchester and Leeds to facilitate the transition and help to ease the skills shortage moving forward.
Overall, twenty major firms in Manchester and Leeds have signed up to participate in the programme.
Candidates that are successful will start a paid six-month professional placement from February 2019.
Additionally, Women Returners will also provide training and coaching from an internal mentor. The refreshment of skills, training, network connections and experience should enable the returning workers to ingratiate themselves back into the legal sector, increasing the skills pool in the process.
Participating businesses will also benefit from a talent pool that has not been utilised or accessible until now.
Julianne Miles, Managing Director, Women Returners said: “It can be very daunting trying to get back into work after a long career break. Many people who are highly skilled, well-qualified and with considerable business experience struggle to find the right opportunities.
“Following the rapid growth of returner programmes in sectors such as financial services, telecoms and construction, it was an obvious next step to extend a concept with proven success into the law sector.
“The concept of returnships is less established in the north of England. But interest in the programme has been high, with 20 law firms large and small signing up for this pilot programme.
Hazel Little, Coaching and Programme Manager, Women Returners said: “Returner programmes give talented and experienced women and men the opportunity to make a positive contribution to an organisation while updating their skills and being supported with coaching and mentoring.
“These placements give both returnees and businesses the opportunity to test whether it’s the right move in a low-risk, supportive environment.”
Lynn Sedgwick, Managing Director of Clayton Legal, said: “Demand for legal skills across the UK has risen sharply. Firms are busy, and they need talented individuals to increase their capacity and improve the efficiency of the firm.”
“We’re two years on from the Brexit referendum and firms are more positive. Nobody knows what the future will hold, but firms are starting to see that Brexit could mean an opportunity for them. And it’s not just Europe that is influencing the market. Reforms to domestic laws and guidelines are having an impact too. We’ve seen a noticeable increase in the number of Personal Injury vacancies since the proposed reforms were pushed back a year to 2020.”
“The one area where there is still some nervousness is around property. Conveyancers are in chronically short supply, and a lack of conveyancing talent is a trend across the whole country.”
“We’re also seeing demand for legal talent increase away from London,”
Applications are open until Sunday 25 November and you don’t have to attend the launch to apply
Have you noticed an increase in the demand for legal services? Are you struggling to find the skilled workers to fill these roles? Will initiatives, similar to the returners programme, improve the skills shortage?