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A total of 70 per cent of partners working in City firms are less confident in the market in 2011 than they were in the two previous years according to a survey carried out by recruiters Nicholas Scott.
The survey cites the ongoing eurozone crisis and banks tightening their grip on lending as the reason behind the gloomy outlook for the immediate future.
Results show that around 80 per cent of partners believe that credit will remain difficult for clients to obtain over the next half year, with partner profits expected to stagnate.
However, 61 per cent of respondents confirmed plans to increase staff numbers over the next six months, with contentious work, corporate restructuring and M&A the areas in which an increase in activity is predicted.
Areas which partners feel are still suffering from the last downturn are finance, corporate and real estate, which have still not recovered to pre-2008 levels.
Findings also indicate that partner hires are most likely to occur in finance, corporate and private equity, with commercial litigation remaining the most likely area to see lateral partner hires in the coming months.
The same areas are cited for planned hiring of associates as firms look to position themselves to take advantage of the economic climate and pursue strategic expansion.
Results are based on the responses of 100 City firm partners with 84 per cent of respondents working at firms with over 100 partners.