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In response to my post last week suggesting that the mid-market is snapping up real estate rainmakers (22 October), a City-based recruiter that deals with most of the top 100 got in touch to tell me that, by contrast, not one of his clients is hiring property rainmakers.
“There’s no hiring going on because nobody is making any rain at the moment,” he says, bluntly.
The billings-to-earnings ratio, which managers want to be at least 3:1, has dropped so dramatically that they apparently feel it is not worth their while to make the investment.
The recruiter’s advice to real estate lawyers? “Sit tight and try not spend too much money.”
But while the situation is difficult, there are options. Another consultant specialising in search recruitment says: “Looking back at the last recession, real estate candidates need to be more flexible, look further afield and consider re-tooling in areas that are related.”
This might be easier in smaller regional firms than in large City outfits. Take Walker Morris. The Leeds-based firm recently re-trained 30 corporate and real estate lawyers in insolvency (see story).
But even in the UK’s largest firms, commercial real estate lawyers can still benefit from broadening their knowledge of counter-cyclical areas that overlap with their own specialism. “Going forward, there will be opportunities for real estate lawyers to get involved in distressed asset work because the underlying asset is often real estate. Increasing knowledge of financial issues will not go amiss,” says Ashurst real estate head Adrian Dear.
“There are all sorts of ways that people can make themselves if not invaluable, more valuable at least. We have a lot of training online, i-pod downloads, if you want to catch up on seminars you already missed you can do so and start going along to the regular meetings of other groups. It can only add to your attractiveness as a lawyer,” he adds.